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Financial Dictionary - Volatility or standard deviation

Volatility or standard deviation

Volatility measures the fluctuation of a variable. In financial terms, this variable is related to market prices and its deviation over a specific of period of time is calculated.

It therefore measures the variance or dispersion of returns for a given fund with respect to its average return. It measures the assumed risk of an investment based on the past performance of the fund.

Volatility can be expressed:

  • in absolute terms, with specific monetary figures;
  • in relative terms, as a percentage of the initial value or the one being compared in the study.

This concept is used increasingly in the financial world, for example to demonstrate whether a fund yield has deviated from its average. If the deviation is significant, it means that the fund has undergone major variations, while a minor deviation indicates that the returns have been more stable throughout the period of time studied. Hence, the greater the deviation, or the greater the volatility, the greater the risk.


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