By and large, both investors and fund professionals rely heavily on past performance in their fund selection process. The problem is that past performance is of little use in identifying funds or managers who will deliver superior future performance relative to their peer group. Numerous studies have failed to unearth a significant positive correlation between past relative performance and future relative performance. The only correlation found has been the consistency of managers with very bad returns to continue to post bad returns in the future.
Our experience evaluating active managers leaves us less than surprised by the inability of winners to consistently repeat. Our research indicates that even skilled managers’ past success often sows the seeds of their future underperformance. There are a variety of reasons that we have identified as to why maintaining an investment edge is difficult:
The fact that track records are not useful in predicting future relative performance is the basis on which index fund proponents conclude that low cost index funds are the better choice. But we disagree with the underlying premise. The fact that track records are not predictive is not tantamount to concluding that superior future performers can’t be identified in advance. It simply means that the track record does not provide sufficient information to do so. Our approach to fund research recognizes that past performance is useful only as a tool for screening funds to identify those that may be worthy of further research. Value added comes from identifying why a fund performed well in the past, determining if the portfolio management team has an identifiable edge and assessing whether the edge (if one exists) is sustainable.
Why Is the Market Still Going Up When COVID-19 Risks Remain?
Even as the rate of unemployment remains high, COVID-19 continues to spread in the U.S., and economists forecast a huge drop in economic activity, the stock market continues to rally. We remind our clients that market prices reflect a consensus view about the future and that maintaining a disciplined investment approach is the best way forward.
Why is the Market Going Up When Economic News Looks Grim?
Our clients, and investors broadly, have been asking this important question: How do we reconcile the recent stock market gains, particularly in the United States, with the poor state of the current economy and the weak outlook? In this post, we explain the variables that impact investor behavior and respond to why financial markets can rally in the face of negative news.