Lipper Average (Lipper Index)

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Written By
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Written By
Dan Buckley
Dan Buckley is an US-based trader, consultant, and part-time writer with a background in macroeconomics and mathematical finance. He trades and writes about a variety of asset classes, including equities, fixed income, commodities, currencies, and interest rates. As a writer, his goal is to explain trading and finance concepts in levels of detail that could appeal to a range of audiences, from novice traders to those with more experienced backgrounds.

The Lipper Average, often referred to as the Lipper Index, is a set of benchmarks created by Lipper Analytical Services (acquired by Thomson Reuters in 1998), a well-known firm in the field of mutual fund research.

These averages are used to compare the performance of mutual funds and other investment vehicles.

Each Lipper Average represents a different category of funds (such as equity funds, bond funds, or money market funds) and is calculated based on the collective performance of the funds within that category.


Key Takeaways – Lipper Average (Lipper Index)

  • Lipper Indices represent the average performance of active funds within specific peer groups.
  • Offers a benchmark for comparing similar investment funds over time.
  • They provide a consistent measure for fund performance, regardless of previous peer group classifications (ensures a uniform standard for comparison).
  • Lipper Averages are used by investors and analysts to assess fund performance trends and make informed investment decisions about what funds to buy within peer groups.


Composition and Calculation

Fund Categorization

Lipper classifies funds into various categories based on their investment focus, asset type, and strategy.

This categorization enables investors to compare funds within the same category, ensuring a more relevant and fair comparison.

Performance Calculation

The performance of each Lipper Average is calculated based on the average returns of all funds within that category.

This includes factors like capital gains, dividend payments, and changes in net asset value.


Uses of Lipper Averages

Fund Performance Assessment

Investors and financial advisors use Lipper Averages to assess the performance of mutual funds.

A fund’s performance is often compared against the relevant Lipper Average to determine how well it is doing relative to its peers.

Market Trend Analysis

Lipper Averages can also provide insights into broader market trends within specific fund categories.

This helps investors understand which sectors or investment styles are performing well.

Portfolio Diversification

Financial professionals may use these averages to aid in:

  • diversifying investment portfolios
  • ensuring exposure to the best-performing categories, or
  • avoiding underperforming ones



Benchmarking Tool

Lipper Averages offer a robust benchmarking tool.

This allows for meaningful comparisons among funds that share similar investment objectives and strategies.

Simplicity and Accessibility

The straightforward calculation of these averages makes them accessible to a wide range of investors, from individuals to professional portfolio managers.

Comprehensive Coverage

Lipper covers a wide range of fund categories, providing a comprehensive view of the mutual fund universe.



Average-Based Analysis

Since Lipper Averages are based on the mean performance of funds in a category, they might not fully represent the performance of individual funds, especially outliers.

Category Overlaps

There can be overlaps or ambiguities in fund categorization, potentially leading to challenges in making precise comparisons.

Historical Focus

Like many benchmarks, Lipper Averages focus on historical performance, which may not necessarily be indicative of future results.



The Lipper Average (Lipper Index) is used for mutual fund analysis and comparison.

It offers a straightforward, category-based approach to evaluating fund performance. This allows investors and advisors to make informed decisions.

It simplifies the process of comparing funds and understanding market trends.

But it’s important to be aware of its limitations, such as its reliance on historical data and the challenges in categorization.

Used judiciously, the Lipper Average can be an effective component in the toolkit for mutual fund selection and portfolio management.