I got an e-mail from a software vendor client who wanted to know what the “standard” is regarding period reporting of benchmark returns. It seems they have a client who wants to see 3 1/2 year benchmark performance (because their portfolio is for 3 1/2 years) but the vendor shows 4, 5, 10 year returns (presumably in addition to 1, 2, and 3).
First, many vendors (and managers) report returns for periods for which no data exists: e.g., my account is only 3 years old but I get columns for 5 and 10 year returns … why? In a case as described here, I would expect to see 1, 2, and 3 year returns, plus a “since inception” return which would cover the 3 1/2 year period (and 3 7/12, 3 8/ 12, etc. as we move forward). There’s no need to show columns if there isn’t data to load in. AND, it would be inappropriate to show 3 1/2 year return in a column labeled “5 years.”
But are there “standards”? No, and perhaps this is a good thing, though we would like to see guidance provided, I’m sure.