For investors, being able to benchmark their performance is crucial. They do not need to outperform the benchmark — though they always hope to — but they certainly do not want to do worse than the market. In addition, benchmarks help investors pinpoint the areas of a diversified asset class that fit the risk-return parameters for their portfolios.
Despite growing interest in the infrastructure asset class, however, no standard exists for benchmarking the performance of unlisted or, to a lesser extent, listed infrastructure investments.
A 2012 CFA Institute report — Benchmarks for Unlisted Infrastructure — surveyed 10 long-time, active infrastructure investors on what they used for a benchmark. Turns out that two institutions used absolute real return approaches. Two used simple CPI-plus approaches. Two used CPI plus bond and equity premiums. One used a fixed-income index. Three used hybrid approaches, each with different components, weightings and construction.