IN FOCUS6-8 min read

Your quick guide to investment returns

Each year, we produce a wall poster that illustrates the relative performance of all asset classes from the past 20 years. Here’s what you need to know about multi-asset returns – and why diversification remains a key strategy for withstanding market volatility.



Simon Doyle
CEO and CIO, Australia

Every now and again a year comes along that throws the market into disarray and leaves some investors scrambling for safety while others rush in to try capture market gains. 2020 was one of those years. After significant market downturns in February, March and April due to the global impact of COVID-19, some sectors began to thrive as others performed poorly.

It’s years like 2020 that show us why diversification is one of the most important strategies for any investor.    

How did different asset classes perform in 2020?

Growth assets

After enjoying double-digit returns in 2019, the growth asset classes of Australian Equities, Global Equities, Emerging Market Equities, Australian Property Trusts and Global High Yield all experienced significantly  lower returns in 2020. The most pronounced fall was for Australian Property Trusts, which returned -4.6% in 2020 compared to 19.4% in 2019.

Defensive assets

As is to be expected, defensive assets experienced much less volatility throughout 2020 than growth assets. Australian Fixed Income, International Fixed Income, Australian Credit and Cash all managed to post positive returns in 2020, albeit lower than their 2019 returns thanks to low interest rates globally. The best performing defensive asset was Australian Credit, returning 5.3% in 2020 (compared to 7.1% in 2019).

Why diversification is important

Experienced investors use diversification as a strategy to reduce risk by building a portfolio with a range of investments, instead of placing all their capital in a single investment. This can be done by investing in different asset classes, industries or sectors.

In 2020, a well-diversified portfolio would have helped investors to cushion the impact of some of the greater falls in the market. In other words, the volatility in growth assets would have been offset by the relative stability of defensive assets.

To learn more about how Schroders’ is navigating these uncertain markets, speak to your Business Development Manager or adviser. 

Order the multi-asset annual returns poster here.  

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Important Information:

This document is issued by Schroder Investment Management Australia Limited (ABN 22 000 443 274, AFSL 226473) (Schroders). It is intended solely for wholesale clients (as defined under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)) and is not suitable for distribution to retail clients. This document does not contain and should not be taken as containing any financial product advice or financial product recommendations. This document does not take into consideration any recipient’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making any decision relating to a Schroders fund, you should obtain and read a copy of the product disclosure statement available at or other relevant disclosure document for that fund and consider the appropriateness of the fund to your objectives, financial situation and needs. You should also refer to the target market determination for the fund at All investments carry risk, and the repayment of capital and performance in any of the funds named in this document are not guaranteed by Schroders or any company in the Schroders Group. The material contained in this document is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for accounting, legal or tax advice. Schroders does not give any warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of information which is contained in this document. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Schroders, every company in the Schroders plc group, and their respective directors, officers, employees, consultants and agents exclude all liability (however arising) for any direct or indirect loss or damage that may be suffered by the recipient or any other person in connection with this document. Opinions, estimates and projections contained in this document reflect the opinions of the authors as at the date of this document and are subject to change without notice. “Forward-looking” information, such as forecasts or projections, are not guarantees of any future performance and there is no assurance that any forecast or projection will be realised. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. All references to securities, sectors, regions and/or countries are made for illustrative purposes only and are not to be construed as recommendations to buy, sell or hold. Telephone calls and other electronic communications with Schroders representatives may be recorded.


Simon Doyle
CEO and CIO, Australia


Simon Doyle
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