Choosing a Benchmark

Nov 2003

Over the years we have consistently used the S&P 500 as our benchmark for growth accounts, mainly because it is a long established, well known and frequently used measure of the equity markets.  After all, since our clients typically hire us to pursue equity investments, measuring our performance relative to one of the most widely followed stock indexes makes sense.   Further, I would argue that there isn’t a clearly better benchmark, even though the S&P 500 is primarily composed of the largest companies, while the investments that we’ve chosen for our clients typically average smaller market capitalizations (though they run the gamut from pretty small to very large).  Company size, after all, is only one variable that affects the comparability of our managed portfolios with a benchmark.  Other important—indeed, probably more important—factors include valuation levels, industry concentrations and a variety of other factors.  All factors considered, I doubt that there is a more appropriate benchmark (for growth accounts) than the S&P 500, let alone one that most investors would recognize and find useful.