ThreeBearsBalanced11Feb2018_UseEvenSmaller-Edited
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long_equity_returns
[long_equity_returns]

This website is entirely my own creation and has nothing to do with any of my former employers. Not only do I accept all responsibility but also I assert all rights over site content. Some pages may appear repetitive but I don't know which route you'll take. Family and friends have been supportive, for which I remain grateful.

The term “DVR” stands for “discounted value return”, while “MVR” stands for “market value return”. Originally, I used the term “calculated value return” but I replaced it quite fast. The general idea is to smooth out returns, which I believe can be useful.

Although the predecessor website (www.dvr.org.uk) was first set up in April 2000, the original work goes back 20 years earlier. At the time, I had become concerned that the “new style” approach to assessing the performance of pension fund assets was inimical to the long-term nature of “final salary” pension schemes. With the benefit of hindsight, I reckon I was absolutely correct! The origins are explained here with a simple example.

The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that I was really addressing long-term returns on UK equities, hence the revised URL. In March 2010, I set up a new website, where I was looking at liabilities as well as assets and I had been intending to continue extending that website (which I did until 2014). However, I realised that the whole approach to discounting future cashflows needed greater attention so I set up a separate website in about July 2015, which will be my main focus for quite a while.

In order to try to achieve consistency with the actuarial valuation, I thought I'd switch the performance criteria away from the short term to the long term. Instead of taking assets at market, this entailed using discounted asset values, which was typical for funding valuations in the UK alone until around 2000. The whole point is to try to introduce some balance between the very short term and the longer term.

In earlier years, I had data for US as well as UK, but I lost access to US data in 2007. Now that I have found new data sources, I have extended the sums to US and to the end of 2018.

Using the navigation bar on the left, you can find what I think is relevant for the basic DVRs themselves, for estimating long-term returns and for thinking about equity risk premia. All charts are presented as interactive Flash videos, which may be problematic for some Apple users, sorry about that. Given that most visitors probably have broadband, I've not worried too much about file sizes. My tentative conclusions are here.

All the assessments are based upon statistics as at 31 December (or the last working day) in any year described as the start. For the avoidance of doubt, I'm using “long” as representing around 15 years, upon which period I shall be focusing.  Having said that, I have looked at periods lasting between 10 years and 15 years, ending no later than 2018.

One critical task for pension fund trustees is deciding how to invest their assets. At least in the UK, they need to appoint an investment advisor and have a statement of investment principles (the “SIP”). To my mind, before considering asset allocation, the trustees need to focus upon likely timeframes within which they must operate. If total (or partial) discontinuance looks like a serious prospect within 10 years or so, then the trustees have little room for equities or property. Where the plan sponsors do have a good covenant, and the trustees have long enough to take the risks, then they can justify seeking higher investment rewards from real assets.

You don't have to agree with any of this stuff but please tell me why not.

Jon   10 March 2019