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The magic triangle of investing

Updated: 4 days ago

Author: Lenka Dzadonova

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Date of Publication: 27/11/2022

Ideal investment instrument = highest return, lowest risk, highest liquidity.

Risk and uncertainty are an integral part of investment projects and are an important component of investment decision-making. In fact, the connection of return, risk and liquidity represents the magic of the triangle. More precisely, their combination is the result of trying to achieve the best result on one vertex, which results in a loss on another vertex. For example, the best result on all three peaks cannot be achieved simultaneously.

This is the basic principle of how investing works. Also, it is popular as the "alpha and omega" of investing. It consists of return, risk and liquidity - three factors that you should take into account in every investment in the financial market.

The triangle of investing are return, risk and liquidity.


The return is one of the three peaks that influence the investor whether to buy the given asset or not. Under income, we include all earnings of an investment from the moment we put funds into it and it lasts until the time of the last possible income from this investment.

Most investors seek to maximize return, given the potential risk and liquidity. However, investment return isn’t guaranteed in most stocks. It is also necessary to distinguish between historical (ex post-was or could have been achieved) and expected return.


The term liquidity refers to the speed with which we are able to exchange our investments back into cash at the lowest possible transaction costs. However, the degree of liquidity depends mainly on the financial instrument itself and the nature of the market. In fact, it is reasonable to know the degree of liquidity, especially when investing. Investors look for goods that are highly liquid, so that in case of a sudden price reduction, they can sell the goods before the prices hit the bottom.

For some types of assets, their liquidity is determined by contractual conditions such as the period of deposit in term deposits. Yet with most financial instruments, the degree of liquidity of the given financial instrument is conditioned by the demand and supply for it.

The term liquidity refers to the speed with which we are able to exchange our investments back into cash at the lowest possible transaction costs.

In addition, there is an opinion that the rate of return corresponds to the risk. Different instruments – different degrees of liquidity – in different markets. Highly liquid are foreign exchange markets, financial derivatives markets, and government bonds. For example, the most liquid assets are shares, where there is no problem of converting them into cash on the stock market without major losses. On the one hand, the least liquid assets appear to be the real estate which, in certain cases can even become non monetizable . This means that they have minimal, close to zero, liquidity. On the other hand, the higher the profitability of the object and location, the higher the demand for them and thus also their liquidity.

Therefore, every investor should consider the composition of assets with different liquidity when compiling an investment portfolio. Also, they should mind the fact that they keep a certain part of the funds as a financial reserve, whether in the form of cash or highly liquid assets.

Risk is a synonym for a certain degree of uncertainty related to expected returns.


Risk is a synonym for a certain degree of uncertainty related to expected returns. In other words, risk appears as the investor's danger that they won’t achieve the expected return. So, the actual return will be different from the expected one in the future and thus there will be a deviation from the expectation. In addition, risk represents a quantity that is difficult to quantify, as it is influenced by several factors, or their combination. Anyone who wants to invest should determine the maximum level of risk that they are willing to bear and forward. If there is no such thing as the ONE perfect investment, then the logical conclusion is: don't put all your available capital into one and the same investment. Therefore, diversification is the magic word. Those who combine several types of investment spread their risk and fulfill each of the criteria of the magic triangle in the addition of all investments.


Reference List:

  1. BIKÁR, M. et al. 2012. Finančné investície. Bratislava : EKONÓM, 2012. 190 s. ISBN 978-80-225-3444-4.

  2. R. A. – MYERS. S. C.1999. Teorie a praxe firemních financí. Praha : EAST Publishing, s. r. o., Praha, 1999- 971 s. ISBN 80-85605-24-4.

  3. HORNIAKOVÁ, Ľ. et al. 2009. Finančný trh. Bratislava : Prf UK Bratislava, 2009. 156 s. ISBN 978-80-7160-278-1.

  4. HRVOĽOVÁ, B. et al. 2006. Cena a hodnoty akcií. Bratislava : Ekonóm, 2006. 117 s. ISBN: 978-80-2252-747-7.

  5. CHOVANCOVÁ, B. et al. 2006. Finančný trh. Bratislava : IURA EDITION, 2006. 611 s. ISBN 80-80780-89-7

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