Bridge over ocean
1 July 1966 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 22, Issue 4

Relative Performance—Nonsense

  1. Albert Young Bingham

In my opinion the greatest need of the investment fraternity is an adequate yardstick of investment performance; that this feeling is widely shared is amply demonstrated by the publication of a number of articles trying to establish such a yardstick. So far, despite studious effort, it is my belief that we have not succeeded.

I would almost contend that we have gone backward. In the past the duty of an investor—as opposed to that of a speculator—was to conserve the value of the principal and to produce a reasonable income. Today, emphasis is placed solely on comparisons of appreciation on a percentage basis over shorter and shorter periods of time with little or no consideration given to what might happen in a substantial down-turn. I believe that what is commonly referred to as the “performance kick” may backfire; if and when it does it may do serious damage to the standing of our profession.

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