Why Beating The S&P 500 Is The Wrong Goal

Why Beating The S&P 500 Is The Wrong Goal

October 13, 2022

How you perform against one index bears little on your financial well-being.

Study after study has shown that beating the S&P 500 over the long term is nearly impossible. Yet, it's common to meet with a new investor, and they ask the question, "How have you done against the market (S&P 500)?"

My reply is generally something along the lines of "is that what you're looking for?" and their answer is either a look of confusion or a resounding "yes."

However, in further conversation, investors come to understand that this is the wrong question. It inevitably will lead them down a path of failed expectations and missed goals.

Beating the S&P 500 sounds great, but it does little to help investors gain confidence. Moreover, it may also be impractical and require taking on risks that are unacceptable to you.

What Are Your Goals?

You don't have to look back far, 2008-09 is not that long ago. If your portfolio lost 35% in 2008 and gained 3% in 2011, you beat the S&P in both years. Fast forward to 2018 – if your portfolio lost 5%, you beat the S&P 500. So what?

None of those seem like attractive returns to me.

My point is simply that benchmarking your goals and expectations to the S&P 500 or any other index is silly and impractical.

Instead of heedlessly chasing the S&P 500, investors should:

  1. Take account of their goals.
  2. Evaluate the costs associated with reaching those goals.
  3. Task their investment adviser with developing a plan that is likely to achieve those goals with the least amount of risk possible.

Be Relevant

Nowhere is relative benchmarking more prevalent and more irrelevant than in investing. How you perform against the S&P 500 bears little on your financial well-being.

If you are in retirement and have a properly structured portfolio, you probably underperformed the S&P 500 in 2021 and maybe have outperformed YTD so far in 2022. Big deal.

The S&P 500 is not trying to accomplish with its money what you try to accomplish with yours.






Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

All indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

S&P 500 Index: The Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 Index tracks the performance of 500 widely held, large-capitalization US stocks.

This article was prepared by FMeX.

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