New GIPS standards will change the rules for marketers of separate accounts

Marketers of investment strategies marketed using performance composites will have to learn new recommendations and rules once GIPS 2010 goes into effect. If you’re a reader of marketing materials for separate accounts, you will find new information to digest.

GIPS is short for Global Investment Performance Standards. The next draft of GIPS standards will be issued for public comment in early 2009, with new standards to be issued in early 2010 and to become effective on January 1, 2011, according to a presentation on “GIPS Update: What to Expect in 2010” by Sunette Mulder, chair of the GIPS Executive Committee and Investment Manager Subcommittee, and Karyn Vincent, chair of the GIPS Interpretations Subcommittee. They spoke at the CFA Institute’s GIPS Standards Annual Conference on Sept. 25.

I nodded my head when Vincent said that common practice in the U.S. is to show 10 years of investment composite performance and to drop off the eleventh year once an additional year of performance is completed. I remember salespeople gleefully anticipating when a bad year would drop off the bar graph.

However, the draft of GIPS 2010 will recommend that firms show more than 10 years of history. That was just one of many points made by Vincent and Mulder. 

Another change that will impact marketers: the composite description must be expanded to include “enough information to understand all of the key characteristics, including risks, of the composite strategy.” Apparently it was felt that firms don’t adequately discuss risks.

Speaking of risk, another innovation is to require disclosure of a risk measure such as standard deviation for the composite and the benchmark for the most recent three-year period. If standard deviation isn’t the best risk statistic, you may show additional statistics.

If you don’t like what you’re hearing–or if you think some of these ideas should definitely get implemented–remember you’ll have an opportunity to give feedback on the draft of GIPS 2010. You can keep up at the GIPS Standards website.
Susan B. Weiner, CFA

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Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved