Fighting ShortTermism

Here’s a great little piece from the WSJ today, Don’t Give Up on That Fund – Not Yet.

. . . the study, conducted by Baird Advisory Services Research, looked at more than 1,300 funds, defining “high performers” as those that topped their benchmark by one percentage point annually over the 10 years ended in 2007. About 505 funds qualified.

The key finding was that many of these top funds went through periods where they got killed by the market or their peer group. More than three-quarters of these high achievers had at least one three-year stretch where the fund lagged behind its benchmark by one percentage point or more. More than half of the funds experienced benchmark underperformance of three percentage points or more, and nearly one-third of them lagged behind by five percentage points or more in a three-year period.

Despite those bouts of underperformance, the funds were able to be superior achievers over the full 10-year window.

Tim Byrne, director of Baird’s Private Wealth Management Research, Products and Services, said the moral of the study is that even the best money managers have periods where they don’t look so good, but the longer an investor sticks with them the better the chances for success, for high performance over time.

“The problem is that people buy a fund after the manager has proven that they are a high performer, but they sell the first time there’s a problem,” Mr. Byrne said. “They wind up chasing performance — buying high and selling low — instead of sticking with a manager who has proven that they can deliver if you give them enough time.”

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