The Uncommon Average

May 21, 2019  |  

The Uncommon Average

“I have found that the importance of having an investment philosophy—one that is robust and that you can stick with— cannot be overstated.” —David Booth

The US stock market has delivered an average annual return of around 10% since 1926.[1] But short-term results may vary, and in any given period stock returns can be positive, negative, or flat. When setting expectations, it’s helpful to see the range of outcomes experienced by investors historically. For example, how often have the stock market’s annual returns actually aligned with its long-term average?

Exhibit 1 shows calendar year returns for the S&P 500 Index since 1926. The shaded band marks the historical average of 10%, plus or minus 2 percentage points. The S&P 500 Index had a return within this range in only six of the past 93 calendar years. In most years, the index’s return was outside of the range—often above or below by a wide margin—with no obvious pattern. For investors, the data highlight the importance of looking beyond average returns and being aware of the range of potential outcomes.

TUNING IN TO DIFFERENT FREQUENCIES

Despite the year-to-year volatility, investors can potentially increase their chances of having a positive outcome by maintaining a long-term focus. Exhibit 2 documents the historical frequency of positive returns over rolling periods of one, five, and 10 years in the US market. The data show that, while positive performance is never assured, investors’ odds improve over longer time horizons.

CONCLUSION

While some investors might find it easy to stay the course in years with above average returns, periods of disappointing results may test an investor’s faith in equity markets. Being aware of the range of potential outcomes can help investors remain disciplined, which in the long term can increase the odds of a successful investment experience. What can help investors endure the ups and downs? While there is no silver bullet, understanding how markets work and trusting market prices are good starting points. An asset allocation that aligns with personal risk tolerances and investment goals is also valuable. By thoughtfully considering these and other issues, investors may be better prepared to stay focused on their long-term goals during different market environments. 


[1]. As measured by the S&P 500 Index from 1926–2018. Registration with the SEC should not be construed as an endorsement or an indicator of investment skill, acumen or experience.  Investments in securities are not insured, protected or guaranteed and may result in loss of income and/or principal.  Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss an A long-term investment approach cannot guarantee a profit.  This communication may include opinions and forward-looking statements.  All statements other than statements of historical fact are opinions and/or forward-looking statements (including words such as “believe,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “may,” “will,” “should,” and “expect”).  Although we believe that the beliefs and expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such beliefs and expectations will prove to be correct.  Various factors could cause actual results or performance to differ materially from those discussed in such forward-looking statements.  All expressions of opinion are subject to change.  You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Any dated information is published as of its date only. Dated and forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made. We undertake no obligation to update publicly or revise any dated or forward-looking statements.   This article is distributed for informational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. Nothing in this communication is intended to be or should be construed as individualized investment advice.  All content is of a general nature and solely for educational, informational and illustrative purposes.  Any references to outside content are listed for informational purposes only and have not been verified for accuracy by the Adviser.  Adviser does not endorse the statements, services or performance of any third-party author or vendor cited.  Indices are not available for direct investment. Their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual portfolio Adviser has selected the stated benchmarks to allow the comparison of a client’s performance to that of a well-known index.  The benchmarks are shown for comparative purposes and to establish current market conditions.  Clients cannot invest directly into and index.  Clients should be aware that the referenced benchmark funds may have a different security composition, volatility, risk, investment objective and philosophy, diversification, and/or other investment-related factors that may affect the benchmark funds’ ultimate performance results.  Additionally, referenced indices may not include fees, transaction costs or reinvestment of income. Therefore, the Adviser’s composite and investor’s individual results may vary significantly from the benchmark’s performance.  Benchmarks used by Adviser are current as of the date indicated and may change without notice.


About Chas Boinske

Charles P. Boinske, CFA, is a 30 year investment management veteran overseeing the strategic direction and portfolio management process for Independence Advisors, LLC. Have a question for Charles? CLICK HERE TO ASK CHARLES
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