Unsystematic Risk: A Comprehensive Guide

Ben Broadwater

Posted September 22, 2023

What is unsystematic risk?

Unsystematic risk, also known as specific risk or diversifiable risk, is the risk that is unique to a particular company or industry. It is caused by factors that are specific to that company or industry, such as management decisions, product quality, competitive landscape, and regulatory changes.

unsystematic risk

Unsystematic risk can have a significant impact on the performance of an individual investment, but it can be reduced through diversification. By investing in a variety of different companies and industries, investors can reduce their risk exposure.

Examples of unsystematic risk

Here are some examples of unsystematic risk:

  • Product recalls due to safety concerns.
  • Company's CEO is caught in a scandal and resigns.
  • New competitor enters the market and takes market share away from an established company.
  • Company's factory is damaged by a natural disaster.
  • A company is hit with a regulatory fine.
  • Company's earnings disappoint analysts' expectations.
  • Management team makes a poor decision.
  • Competitor launches a new product that is superior to its existing products.
  • Company's industry is disrupted by new technology.
  • Supplier has financial problems and cannot deliver the goods or services that the company needs.
  • A customer goes bankrupt and defaults on its payments.
  • Government changes its regulations in a way that is unfavorable to the company.

How to reduce unsystematic risk

Investors can reduce their risk exposure by diversifying their portfolios. This means investing in a variety of different companies and industries. When a company or industry underperforms, the losses can be offset by the gains of other companies and industries in the portfolio.

Here are some tips for diversifying your portfolio:

  • Invest in a variety of different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate.
  • Purchase shares of companies of different sizes and from different industries.
  • Invest in companies from different countries.
  • Use mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to gain exposure to a variety of different investments.

Measuring unsystematic risk

There are a number of different ways to measure unsystematic risk. One common method is to use the beta coefficient. Beta is a measure of a stock's volatility relative to the overall market. A stock with a beta of 1.0 is just as volatile as the market, while a stock with a beta of 2.0 is twice as volatile as the market.

Another common way to measure unsystematic risk is to use the standard deviation. Standard deviation is a measure of the variability of returns. A stock with a high standard deviation has more volatile returns than a stock with a low standard deviation.

Managing unsystematic risk

Investors can manage unsystematic risk in a number of different ways. One way is to diversify their portfolios. Another way is to use stop-loss orders. A stop-loss order is an order to sell a stock if it falls below a certain price. Stop-loss orders can help to limit the losses that an investor incurs if a stock underperforms.

Investors can also use options to hedge against unsystematic risk. Options are contracts that give the holder the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a security at a specified price by a certain date. Investors can use options to protect their portfolios against downside risk.


In conclusion, unsystematic risk is the risk that is unique to a particular company or industry. It can have a significant impact on the performance of an individual investment, but it can be reduced through diversification. Investors can also use stop-loss orders and options to manage risk.

In-depth analysis of unsystematic risk

Unsystematic risk is a complex topic, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing it. The best approach for each investor will depend on their individual circumstances and risk tolerance.

One important thing to keep in mind is that unsystematic risk cannot be completely eliminated. However, by diversifying their portfolios and using other risk management techniques, investors can reduce their exposure and make their portfolios more resilient to shocks.

Additional Considerations:

  • The size of your portfolio: Investors with larger portfolios have more opportunities to diversify and reduce their exposure to unsystematic risk.
  • Your risk tolerance: Investors with a lower risk tolerance may want to invest in a larger number of different companies and industries to reduce their exposure to risk.
  • Your investment goals: Investors with long-term investment goals may be more willing to take on some unsystematic risk in order to generate higher returns

Lastly, to learn more about unsystematic risk or other investing topics, consider signing up for our free Wealth Daily newsletter today.

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