Master trusts returned a median 18.38% in the year ended Dec. 31, according to the Trust Universe Comparison Service of Wilshire Associates.
Of all institutional master trusts, foundations and endowments led with a one-year return of 21.2%, with corporate funds at 19.9% and public funds at 19.8%. Taft-Hartley funds had a median return for the year of 12.5%. Foundations and endowments also led the way in the quarter ended Dec. 31, with a median return of 3.53%, compared with 3.36% for public funds, 3.19% for corporate funds and 2.4% for Taft-Hartley funds.
Much of the difference in returns was due to the wide range of returns by different asset classes, said Hilarie Green, managing director with Wilshire Associates and head of Wilshire Performance Reporting, a division of Wilshire Analytics. For 2009, the S&P 500 returned 26.45%, and the Barclays Capital Government/Credit index returned 4.53%.
“There's a very wide range, which indicates that even small difference in asset allocation could really impact your performance,” Ms. Green said.
“Again, if you look at the all plans, foundations and endowments have the lowest percent of bonds, which means they were invested in more aggressive strategies.”
The median Taft-Hartley fund allocation had 35.37% in bonds, compared with 33% for corporate funds and 29.32% for public funds, while the median foundations and endowment allocation was only 20.42% to bonds.
Large master trusts (assets greater than $5 billion) returned 18.7% for the year, while master trusts with assets greater than $1 billion returned 18.5%.