There are three performance numbers that should matter to you.
First, is your performance goal. Let’s assume you have to average a 10% rate of return to achieve your financial goals.
Second, is your absolute performance. What return did your investments deliver? If your performance was 10% then you achieved your financial goal for that year. You should also differentiate between gross and net returns (after expenses are deducted). You may find your 10% return became 8% in which case you lagged your goal.
Third, is your relative performance. This is the number that really matters. How did your investments perform compared to a benchmark. For example, your absolute return was 10%, but your benchmark was up 20%. On a relative basis you lagged your benchmark by 50% – not so good.
Relative return benchmarks also tell you how you performed during negative years. For example, your benchmark is down 10%, but your portfolio’s performance is only down 5%. On a relative basis you win because you lost less.
Investor Watchdog is launching a new website in the next few weeks that contains five sophisticated performance benchmarks. Some of the benchmarks have up to 12 asset classes and they use varying asset allocations to reflect different tolerances for risk. You select the benchmark and we monitor your results for you.