Most of us have seen the marketing brochures distributed by mutual fund companies and investment products salespeople as an inducement to place our money in a fund. At the very least, we’ve encountered historical returns posted within a 401k plan that some people use to help select where they place their money.
But have you ever noticed that when you look at the historical return data, your rate of return seems to magically be different? What gives? Some might explain this as entry and exit variances that alter the yield vs. the calendar year assumptions put in place on the historical data and to some degree this is true. But the real answer to this lies a little deeper and has to do with a little slight of hand, and some simple mathematics.