Friday, April 20, 2012

When NOT to use "N/A"

In doing GIPS(R) (Global Investment Performance Standards) verifications under the new version, I've witnessed a few firms who insert "N/A" for years prior to 2011, when they chose not to report the 3-year annualized standard deviation. Not showing this figure is fine; "N/A" is, I believe, misleading.

N/A can mean:
  • Not Applicable: but it CAN apply if there are at least 36 months of returns to run the statistic against
  • Not Available: but it CAN be available; you just need to run the math.
You should just leave it blank! Just as with the example in the standards:


  1. Would it make sense to use N/A if the period was less than 36 months i.e., 2002, 2003? Would you still recommend leaving it blank?

  2. Justin, there is a new requirement to disclose if you aren't able to report this statistic because you have less than 36 months of data, and so you could have the "n/a," though this, in my view, doesn't satisfy the requirement; I'd still expect to see the words. In addition, standard deviation is only required for 2011 and later, so to show for 2002 and 2003 isn't necessary. If you want to show it (and have shown for 2004-2011), then this would be fine and would make sense. Hope this helps!


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