American Investors Are Feeling Lucky


As many of the certainties that underpinned the social, political and economic order were swept away by Covid-19, the stock market has … boomed. And with it has boomed investor confidence.

According to the latest Schroders Global Investor Study, when asked about the performance of their investment portfolio over the next five years, the mean global investor expects an average annual total return of 10.92%. This is 1.02% higher than they expected in 2018 and 0.22% higher than in 2019. Perhaps inevitably, American investors are the most bullish about their prospects, predicting a five-year return of 15.38%, whereas the average Japanese expectation is just 5.96%.

Schroders surveyed over 23,000 people in 32 countries in April, defining “people” as those who planned to invest at least 10,000 euros, or the equivalent, in the next year and who have made changes to their investments (excluding cash and property) during the past decade.

When asked about the expected performance of their portfolios over the next 12 months, respondents were equally bullish. The average global return was expected to be 8.84% — though 24% of investors expected a return of 10% to 14%, and 19% expected a return of 15% to 20%. The more proficient an investor claims to be, the more optimistic they are: 53% of self-described “expert” or “advanced” investors expect to see a 12-month return of 10% or more, compared to 29% of “beginner” or “rudimentary” investors.

This exuberance — which even Schroders called “improbable” and “over-optimistic” — might be explained by the fact that 80% of those polled (and 85% of investing “experts”) agreed with this statement: “I have received these returns in the past, so it is very likely this will continue in the future.” It’s almost as if we’ve stopped hearing the mantra mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Rule 156: Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

American Investors Are Feeling Lucky

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Ben Schott is a Bloomberg Opinion visual columnist. He created the Schott’s Original Miscellany and Schott’s Almanac series, and writes for newspapers and magazines around the world.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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