As financial professionals we are all gatekeepers.  What eventually gets through each gate depends on each gatekeeper.  When you were taught the 8P’s of manager due diligence (some of you by me) for your CIMA, the P’s are not equal for all gates.  We all need to do a better job of explaining how each portfolio is different from the benchmark and, therefore, why it will outperform or underperform the benchmark in return or risk before it happens.  Benchmarks are points of understanding, not a number to beat.  We all know perfect market timing beats the benchmark.  Selecting a manager who can do it, however, is impossible.  Hoping each manager in each asset class will outperform also has a low probability of success.  So we are back to Asset Allocation; 60/40 or 70/30 still works over time.  Gatekeepers need to take responsibility for the performance of what we let through the gate and the asset allocation.  Manager selection and asset allocation need to each be measured for their contribution because not everyone is good at both. Many risk reducing strategies have lowered returns.  Some people like to buy insurance, others do not, and the success or failure of the allocation to insurance is determined by if the insured event happens or not.  For others who reduced risk expecting equal to higher returns, the question is higher than what?  60/40 or 70/30?  Underperformance for many is forgetting the asset allocation target and focusing on parts and not the whole.

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