CNN-Money recently offered it's readers the opportunity to take a financial risk tolerance test. I am a sucker for personal evaluation tests, so I went ahead and clicked on the link. The test is comprised of 25 questions designed to ascertain how risk averse you are as an investor. Unlike most tests that give you two or three pretty transparent questions and then throw your answers back at you, this test is fairly sophisticated. As I was taking the test I was noticing something very strange about myself: I was cheating. Even though I was the only person who was ever going to know or care about the results, I was trying to game my answers to make sure that the test score came out the way I wanted it to come out.
To be fair, this wasn't a completely premeditated act of deceit. In a couple of places, after I chose one answer, I noticed that this wasn't really a truthful answer. I went back and changed the answers I had first given. In the end, the answers I submitted were sincere, but I am not sure why my initial reactions were not honest. I have been thinking about this for a couple of days and I think I have a good theory. I believe I know myself very well, especially in matters of personal finance. I also think that I understand my tolerance for risk and my behavior under pressure. Here I was, taking a test that was supposed to tell me something about myself that I did not already know. Damn arrogant test. It thinks it knows me better than I do? I'll show it. I'll give the answers that will generate the results as I know them to be.
Not very smart or mature, I admit.
Still, I did catch myself and fix the erroneous answers, so give me small credit please.
The bottom line is that I scored a 68 on that test, with the following description for my risk tolerance:
"Most commonly they think of "risk" as "opportunity". They have a great deal of confidence, if not complete confidence, in their ability to make good financial decisions and usually feel very, or at least somewhat, optimistic about their major financial decisions after they make them.They are prepared to take a large degree of risk with their financial decisions and are usually, if not always, more concerned about the possible gains than the possible losses.When faced with a major financial decision you are usually, more concerned about the possible losses."
Actually, that's pretty good. This is very close to the view I have of myself and my tolerance for financial risk. In the end, after trying to cheat the test, I have to admit that it did a pretty good job at what it was designed to do.
A final word on my risk tolerance and our asset allocation. The best measure of your correct asset allocation, in my opinion is this: if you went through the most recent crisis and held onto your asset allocation strategy, you have a good understanding of your tolerance for risk. If you bailed out when things got rough, you are probably taking on more risk than you can handle. Remember that next time the market turns up and you are tempted to jump back into stocks (as in, now, for example). If you want the ups, you have to be able to live with the downs.
So, dear readers, let me know what you think of this test and let me know what your test scores turn out to be. I am also curious to know if anyone else finds themselves cheating on personal assessment tests that only they will ever see the results to. Humans are strange beasts.
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