This is the risk associated with owning shares in any one company. Obviously, if a pension fund’s total investments are in the shares of only 10 companies, on average each holding is worth 10% of the fund, and the ‘stock-specific risk’ of that holding is very high. If anything was to go very wrong for any one company, leading to a sudden and dramatic fall in the share price, the damage to the overall investments would be quite large. Indeed in a worst-case scenario, 10% of the value of the fund could be lost due to an ‘accident’ involving just one company.
But if the pension fund instead invested in, say, the shares of 500 companies, a disaster with one company could only lead to a loss of 0.2% of the fund – a dramatically lower loss than the 10% loss if the fund only invested in 10 different shares. So, the larger the number of companies that the pension fund invests in, the lower the ‘stock specific risk’ to the fund.