Investors often endure poor timing and planning as many chase past performance. They buy into funds that are performing well and initiate a selling spree following a decline. This becomes evident when evaluating a fund’s total return compared with the investor return. Overall, the investor return translates to the average investor’s experience as measured by the timing decisions of all investors in the fund.

The adjacent chart illustrates the investor return relative to the total return for a given fund. Over the short term, both the total and investor returns were positive and relatively similar. Over a 10-year period, however, total return greatly exceeded investor return. Investors who attempted to time the market ran the risk of missing periods of exceptional returns.


Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This is for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of any investment. Returns and principal invested in stocks are not guaranteed. Morningstar investor returns measure how the typical investor in that fund fared over time, incorporating the impact of cash inflows and outflows from purchases and sales. It is not one specific investor’s experience, but rather a measure of the return earned collectively by all the investors in the fund. Total return measures the percentage change in price for a fund, assuming the investor buys and holds the fund over the time period, reinvests distributions, and does not make any additional purchases or sales. Investor returns are not a substitute for total returns, but can be used in combination with them. Data as of December 2013.

Source: The fund illustrated in this example was selected from Morningstar’s open-end database.

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