Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 415 416 417 418 419 420 421 422 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 442 443 444 445 446 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 456 457 458 459 460 461 462 463 464 465 466 467 468 469 470 471 472 473 474 475 476 477 478 479 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 494 495 496 497 498 499 500 501 502 503 504 505 506 507 508 509 510 511 512 513 514 515 516 517 518 519 520 521 522 523 524 525 526 527 528 529 530 531 532 533 534 535 536 537 538 539 540 541 542 10834 result(s) returned

1.4 Resourcing the project

Work will be delayed if the necessary materials and equipment are not readily available, or if the accommodation for the project has not been arranged. Although the project manager is responsible for overall resource allocation and utilisation, much of the work can be delegated. By conferring responsibility to achieve an outcome within the budget, more direct links between costs and outcomes are established. In most projects there will be organisational internal controls and statutory require
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1.3 Motivating and preparing staff

Motivation is important. In resourcing the project it may be worthwhile to build in a reward system that helps to motivate. This depends on the availability of the resources to make this possible. Even if the material rewards are good, the conditions in which staff work and the relationships between them always affect performance. A project manager is often able to influence conditions and culture. The tasks allocated to staff must be realistic and achievable, and it is helpful to agree these
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1.2 Defining team responsibilities

Depending on the size of a project, responsibility for each key stage may need to be allocated to a member of the project team. Clear allocation of roles and responsibilities for tasks and key stages ensures that each piece of work is ‘owned’ by a particular person, and that overall responsibility for the work is spread appropriately between members of the team. Establishing clear lines of accountability for each team member is important to give them:

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1.1 The transition from planning to action

In working on a project, it is sometimes difficult to make the transition from planning to action. It usually falls to the manager, as leader of the project, to make sure that activities are started; but not before it is clear who should carry out which tasks, and when. The first step for the project manager is to ensure that the plan is communicated to those who will be working on the project. It is not always safe to assume that others will understand the plan or its implications, particula
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Next steps

After completing this unit you may wish to study another OpenLearn Study Unit or find out more about this topic. Here are some suggestions:

If you wish to study formally at The Open Universit
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5 Conclusion

In a financial context, risk is a synonym for uncertainty – the possibility that the actual outcome will differ from the mean expected outcome. It is therefore a neutral rather than a negative concept. Investors are risk-averse in the sense that they require more return for taking on more risk. Risk itself is measured by the standard deviation of actual returns around the mean expectation. In the real world, investment risk is created by a number of different factors that affect the certain
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4.3 Net present value

If the NPV is positive, then the aggregate present value of the future cash flows is greater than the price to be paid for the investment today, so the investment is cheap and offers an excess return. If the NPV is negative, then the price to be paid today is greater than the present value of the future cash flows; the investment is therefore overpriced and does not offer an adequate return. If the NPV is zero, we can say the investment is fairly priced by the market.

All significant fi
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4.2 Discounted cash flow

Any investment gives rise to a stream of future expected cash flows. DCF converts all of these to an equivalent amount of present-day money (or present value) by discounting each future cash flow for the appropriate number of periods (for example, years) by the periodic discount rate. The periodic discount rate is the investor's required rate of return including the time preference rate, a premium for risk and an adjustment for inflation.

Having established the present values<
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4.1 Introduction

This section looks at how discounted cash flow (DCF) and the net present value (NPV) rule help investors to choose between possible alternative investments and decide whether the return offered on an investment is worth it, given the risk.

  • DCF allows us to compare two alternative investments with different expected cash flows, different maturities and different risks.

  • NPV allows us to decide whether or not to go ahead in either case.<
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3.7 Interest rate risk

This has to be seen in conjunction with the previous comments about the secondary market in shares and debt instruments. An efficient secondary market can ensure that there is always a ready buyer for an investment, but the price at which the investment can actually be sold will depend entirely on market conditions at the time of sale. The secondary market price will not necessarily bear any relation to the price originally paid by the investor. The following example illustrates the general p
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3.6 Event risk

This is not unlike default risk but it is a special case meriting its own category. The shareholders or management of a company might consciously and voluntarily enter into a major transaction that radically changes either the company's nature or its capital structure (that is, the balance and mix of shares and various types of debt in its overall sources of finance). Such a restructuring might cause some or all investors to suffer a significant increase in the uncertainty of their investment
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3.5 Default or credit risk

This is the risk that contractual returns will not be paid because the borrower's financial situation has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer able to service the debt. It is possibly the commonest type of risk in commerce generally, and you are probably familiar with it in some shape or form. It affects many areas of business decision-making over and beyond the specialised world of investment risk and return. Most large companies devote significant resources to the identification,
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3.4 Variability of income

This applies to investments where the return is defined in generic terms but the actual amount of the return may fluctuate in an unpredictable manner. As we have seen, the most obvious example is the company share, but there are others, such as debt instruments (such as many bank deposits) where there is a contractual right to interest but the interest rate fluctuates according to some formula – or even simply at the whim of the bank! An important example of this type of security is the Flo
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3.3 Liquidity

Borrowers prefer to have the use of funds for as long as possible, while investors generally prefer to be able to get their money back as soon as possible. A major function of the financial markets, and of the stock market in particular, is to reconcile these conflicting requirements. The stock market enables shareholders and bondholders to realise their investment independently of the company by selling their holdings to other investors. This is called the secondary capital market, to distin
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3.2 Maturity

The maturity of an investment is the date when the investor is contractually entitled to demand repayment of the investment and the associated return. Some investments (such as company shares, as discussed in Section 3.1) actually have no contractual maturity. Others – such as demand deposits at banks – are subject to contractual repayment at any time if the investor demands it. If any of the other risk factors discussed below app
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3.1 Background

In practice, there is almost always some element of risk (in the technical sense of ‘uncertainty’) in any investment return. There is in finance the theoretical concept of a truly risk-free asset, but at the moment it is sufficient just to be aware of the main factors causing risk or uncertainty in practice. These are:

  • maturity

  • liquidity

  • variability of income

  • default or credit risk

  • <
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2.2 Calculating returns

Our first question was: what is the mean expected total return for next year? We calculate this by taking each of the possible returns and weighting it by its relative probability. As our table is so simple and symmetrical, it is not difficult to see that the weighted mean return is 7% per annum.

Our second question was: what is the degree of risk or uncertainty in this mean figure? In other words, how widely dispersed are the possible outcomes around the mean expected outcome? The most
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2.1 Looking at each of the possible alternative outcomes

Investment risk is synonymous with uncertainty of outcome, so it is logical to try to quantify risk by looking at the relative uncertainty, or probability, of each of the possible alternative outcomes.

Suppose that we are interested in investing in the shares of Company X, and want to know:

  • What is the mean or average expected total return for the next year?

  • What is the degree of risk or uncertainty in this mean figure?


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1.2 Are investors risk-averse?

We will define ‘risk premium’ as an extra reward required by investors to compensate for perceived uncertainty in the amount or timing of an expected return.

But do investors in fact require an extra premium for uncertainty, or is this perhaps just a convenient assumption?

The following activity is designed to give you an opportunity to test your own reactions.

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1.1 A note about terminology

We begin with a ‘health warning’ about terminology, this time about the use of the word ‘risk’ in finance.

The difference between the everyday and the specialised meanings of ‘risk’ is less technical and more radical than in the case of ‘return’. In everyday usage, ‘risk’ is negative – the risk of having a car accident or the risk of losing one's job. If we use ‘risk’ in a positive sense at all, it is only as a result of adopting a
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