A thoughtful piece from GMO’s James Montier.

Benchmark obsession undermines investor returns
By James Montier

Sir John Templeton, the pioneering global investor, argued that the aim of investing was quite simply “maximum real returns”. Over time this simple but powerful objective has been lost. This is all the more surprising because, clearly, real returns matter to the end investor, particularly in current markets. Pensions are paid from real returns not relative ones.

So where did the concept of relative performance originate? It probably stemmed from good intentions (as do most bad ideas). Why pay active fees if the managers don’t deliver returns above a passive benchmark? However, this idea has morphed into an unhealthy obsession with pigeon-holing managers into niche buckets.

See the rest here: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/77f0077c-c35a-11e0-9109-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1YVIQr55V