Portfolio performance data tends to be rooted in several big assumptions. Unless noted otherwise, returns for any given time period assume a single lump-sum investment with no additional investments, no withdrawals, no inflation and no taxation.

These assumptions have an indisputable value: They create a common starting point and simplify analysis and comparison. But there's a risk for advisors in relying too much on these assumptions - because they set up a disconnect with real-world performance, which is of course what matters ultimately to clients.

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