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7IM Short Thoughts: Don’t expect the average market

Ben Kumar, Head of Equity Strategy01 Sep 2023

In certain situations, using averages can sometimes be a helpful way to set and manage expectations – like predicting this weather, for instance.

However, this doesn’t ring true when it comes to investing, as averages just aren’t that common.

Ben reveals all as he takes a closer look at the US stock market.


Here on the northwest coast of Ireland, in county Donegal, there’s an average of 260 days a year where it rains.

Now, that average is a useful statistic. It tells me to pack for rain and then hope that the sun shines. And we’re used to using averages to set our expectations. But it’s a mistake to do the same when we look at investing.

Because, the average return, annual return, of the US stock market over the last 42 years is a nice round 10%. But you shouldn’t expect 10% a year because when you look at the individual yearly returns of the market, you can see that very, very rarely do you get anywhere close to 10%.

In fact, just one time in the last 42 years, in 2016, did you get a 10% return. Because in finance, averages just aren’t that common.

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