Yes and no.I may be misinformed, but "the market" has been the standard to beat for years has it not? I'm an index investor, I don't think there are any dividend funds that have outperformed the broad index funds, even when accounting for dividends being reinvested? If so, I've been doing it all wrong for years.
"The market" is a common benchmark, and makes sense in a lot of cases.
However I don't think it's necessarily the right benchmark for a specific persons individual needs.
Lets say your purpose is capital appreciation over a 30 year period.
Would you be happy with the market returns of the Nikkei? near zero
Or the TSX over the last 15 years (50% capital appreciation)
I think when you look at portfolios, a mixed cash/bond/equity portfolio actually performs very well, at much lower risk and volatility than a pure equity portfolio.
For the individual, volitility and risk is a real concern. It's easy to say a 20-30% drop won't bother you, but wait till you're 60 and that 30% drop is $300k gone.
I think that this focus on maximum returns, and ignoring volatility/risk, is bad.
I think at the individual level, it's like hedge funds forgetting that shorting stocks has "theoretically" unlimited risk.
I'm not trying to "beat" anything. I'm trying to get a good return at reasonable risk & volitility.