Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Expanding the role of a glossary...but no more!

What is a glossary? Well, defines it as


[glos-uh-ree, glaw-suh-]
1.a list of terms in a special subject, field, or area of usage, with accompanying definitions.
2.such a list at the back of a book, explaining or defining difficult or unusual words and expressions used in the text

The GIPS(R) (Global Investment Performance Standards) 2005 edition had an expanded role for glossaries: as a source of requirements. Take the expression Composite Definition: it's defined as "Detailed criteria that determine the allocation of portfolios to composites. Composite definitions must be documented in the firm's policies and procedures." (emphasis added) Who would think to look to the glossary as a place for requirements? To me, a glossary is a place to go if I find a word or expression for which I need clarity, not to find requirements.

Well, the GIPS 2010 edition has changed this; we now find "Detailed criteria that determine the assignment of portfolios to composites. Criteria may include investment mandate, style or strategy, asset class, the use of derivatives, leverage and/or hedging, targeted risk metrics, investment constraints or restrictions, and/or portfolio type (e.g., segregated or pooled, taxable versus tax exempt)." Not only has the "requirement" been removed, the expression has been nicely expanded.

Since the standards require firms to make composite definitions available upon request (see paragraph 3.A.4), you have to have them somewhere. Should they be in your P&:P? I would think this would be a good practice, but it's not a requirement. But since they are part of the process used to assign accounts to composites, I'd say they either should be there or at least referenced in the P&P.

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