Drawdown: the greatest risk you will face


Drawdown is a measure of the decline in value of an investment from its peak to its lowest point. It is a common metric used to measure the risk of an investment and is often used in conjunction with other metrics such as return on investment (ROI) and risk-adjusted return on investment (RAROI).

One of the dangers of drawdown is that it can lead to a loss of confidence in an investment, causing investors to make hasty decisions and potentially sell at a loss. Additionally, a prolonged drawdown can be detrimental to investors who rely on their investments for income, as it can lead to a reduction in the amount of money available to them.


To limit drawdown, investors can employ a variety of strategies such as diversifying their portfolio, using stop-loss orders, and rebalancing their portfolio. Diversifying a portfolio by investing in a variety of assets can help to reduce the risk of a significant loss in any one investment.

Rebalancing a portfolio can help to ensure that it remains aligned with an investor’s risk tolerance and investment goals.

Barely applicable during the retirement, Stop-loss orders can also be used to limit losses by automatically selling an investment when it reaches a certain price. Likewise, using risk management techniques such as value at risk (VaR) and expected shortfall (ES) can help to estimate the potential loss of an investment portfolio.

Summarizing, we can focus on these 3 points:

  • Preservation of Capital: Avoiding substantial drawdowns during the initial phases of decumulation is vital for preserving the capital base. A heavy loss early on can significantly diminish the overall portfolio value, making it challenging for the remaining assets to recover, especially if withdrawals continue.
  • Long-Term Impact on Income: Large drawdowns in the early years of decumulation can have a lasting impact on the income generated from the portfolio. With a reduced capital base, retirees may need to adjust their withdrawal rates, potentially leading to a lower income stream throughout their retirement years.
  • Mitigating Sequence Risk: Minimizing drawdowns in the early stages is a strategic move to mitigate sequence risk. By preserving the portfolio value, investors can better navigate market fluctuations and enhance the sustainability of their assets over the long term, ensuring a more secure financial position during retirement.


Investing always involves risk and even the best risk management techniques can’t guarantee a profit or protect against loss. It’s important for investors to have a clear understanding of the risks involved and to be prepared for the possibility of a loss.

It’s also important to note that living off of investment income requires a significant amount of money invested. This level of investment and return often requires taking on a high level of risk, which can lead to significant drawdown. It’s crucial for those looking to live off of investment income to carefully evaluate their risk tolerance and to have a plan in place for managing drawdown.