Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two things to remember about performance attribution

To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour
William Blake

I believe there are two major things that performance measurement professionals need to know about attribution.

#1 Attribution is about insights.

The single word, "insights," says a lot.

Attribution provides insights into what has gone on;  what has occurred. Another word for this is perspectives. The more you twist and turn (i.e., slice and dice) the portfolio, the more insights or perspectives you can gain.

What is waiting to be discovered?

#2 Perhaps more than anything else we do, attribution greatly helps to elevate the role of the performance measure-
ment team.

It affords opportunities for the performance measure-
ment professionals to provide key information to the front office. It allows you the chance to provide guid-
ance, explain what has gone on, share the insights you gained, resolve issues, identify causes, and much more. It's something that should be grasped and championed.

There are times when you don't stop at giving the front office the reports; instead, find ways to provide helpful commentary; perhaps discover secrets that may not be clear; identify those key insights that the mangers may overlook.

Are you going to be a provider of reports or a provider of information? 

That's the challenge. That's the opportunity.


  1. Excellent point on looking at what we should be getting from attribution. Unfortunately, when you slice, you frequently get a result that is different than when you dice. You can also blend, puree and whip. Understanding the differences will lead to insights of your process and tools. Different factors, different benchmarks, returns based data, using factor models, creating fat slices and this slices will all provide different and with some thought complementary results. Starting with the investment process that is producing these returns is the key to getting meaningful results.


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