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The FTSE 100 Will Always Beat You

stock exchangeEvery investor’s goal is to make money and increase their wealth, or at least protect their wealth. However, the majority of private investors fail to accomplish this simple goal. 

Indeed, it’s often said that many private investors underperform the market, although until recently there have been no definitive figures detailing to what degree investors actually underperform. But now we know, and the numbers are terrifying. 

Lagging the index

Over the past 20 years the FTSE 100 has risen at a rate of around 5.4% per annum, excluding fees, dividends and inflation — dividends received are likely to cancel out fees and inflation anyway. During this period, the market has seen the dotcom bubble and the financial crisis: two events that have sent the FTSE 100 surging to a high of nearly 7,000 and crashing to a low of around 3,000. 

In comparison, over the same 20-year period, according to research conducted by a number of financial institutions, the average investor has only returned 2.5% per annum including dividends. This paltry return is, in a word, shocking.

In fact, the average investor underperformed nearly every financial instrument bar one over the 20-year period studied. The only market that put in a worse performance than the average investor over this period was that Japanese stock market. Some of the instruments that performed better than the average investor over the past 20 years include: cash (3% p.a.), bonds (3% – 8% p.a.), hedge funds (8% p.a.), REITS (10% p.a.) and all emerging markets (6% – 10% p.a.).

All in all, if you include inflation, in real terms over the past 20 years the average investor has returned 0% p.a., while the FTSE 100 has returned over 5%. 

Slow and steady

Many analysts agree that the average investor underperforms the market because they trade too much. As a result, fees eat away at returns and many investors often buy high and sell low, erasing much of their capital in the process. 

So, it seems as if the best way to avoid these dismal returns and rack up a performance that is at least in line with the wider market, investors should look to tracker funds. 

It’s easy to see how a simple tracker fund can transform your portfolio. Over the past 29 years, the FTSE 100 has returned around 5.5% per annum, excluding dividends. Meanwhile, the FTSE All-Share has returned closer to 6% per annum. Including dividends these returns would be closer to 10%.

And remember, these returns exclude the impact of dividend reinvestment. According to my figures, a £1000 investment in the FTSE All-share, yielding 3% per annum, with capital growth of 5.9% would turn £1,000 into £8,200 over a period of 30 years.

Of course, this is excluding costs, but there are some very low cost trackers out there for you to take advantage of. In particular, BlackRock 100 UK Equity TrackerFidelity Index UK charges 0.09% and the db x-trackers FTSE 100 UCITS ETF (LSE: XUKX) charges a lowly 0.09%.

For the FTSE All-Share, Vanguard FTSE UK Equity Index charges 0.15%, BlackRock UK Equity Tracker offers index replication for 0.16% and the Legal & General Tracker Trust charges 0.16%.

It's up to you

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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.