Our portfolio is currently defensive (less risky) and less volatile than the ACWI index. Therefore, it has underperformed in bull market and overperformed in bear market. So far (starting from end of 2008) it has produced exactly same results as investment into passive index would have resulted.
My post from a year ago discusses results from years 2009 and 2010. While updating the calculation to include year 2011 I found a couple of errors in the calculation so results for those years are now somewhat different from the previous update.
Our benchmark index 2007-2011 (based on MSCI All Country World Index)
I have not calculated our performance during 2007-2008 because we were off the market. During that time and also before that our benchmark index would have been different because the investment objective was different and risk level was much lower.
About the "benchmark investment"
I have chosen to construct my own imaginary benchmark index fund out of MSCI ACWI index instead of choosing one particular index fund that tracks the index. The main reason for this is that I would never invest all our money in any particular fund. I would rather choose several funds managed by several companies that as a whole would track the index close enough. My estimate for average cost level for the benchmark investment is 0.5% per transaction and 0.5% per year.
The index data itself is available via MSCI Barra web site as excel-file at least at the time of writing this post. I use a version of ACWI index which has large and mid cap companies in it. I use it with the following parameters:
- EUR (as in euros)
- Daily (as in daily quotations of the index)
- “Net” (as in “With Net Dividends” that takes into account taxes that you would have to pay before you can reinvest back into the fund. “Gross” option reinvests dividends wholly.)
The benchmark investment is always fully invested into the passive index. Starting balance was invested at end of 2008 to the index. By dividing the money with the value of the index, you get “shares in index”.
About calculating the yearly returns
The yearly return of the index and the "benchmark investment" will be different due to addition of money into the brokerage accounts during the year. The yearly returns are simply calculated as
[balance at end of year N] - [(balance at end of year N-1) + (additions to brokerage accounts during the year N)] / [(balance at end of year N-1) + (additions to brokerage accounts during the year N)]