When you invest with a Roboadvisor, they usually display your investment returns in your dashboard or in your performance summary page.

You may have come across the term ‘simple returns’.

Here are some examples:

Screenshot of simple return of a moneyowl portfolioScreenshot of the returns from an example Endowus portfolio

Simple returns basically shows how much profit you made with your investment.

Formula: Net gains / Total invested amount X 100%

So, if you had invested $1,000 in January and your portfolio at the end of Dec is valued at $1,200. You have made $200. Your simple return would be $200/$1000 = 20%

But sometimes, the dashboard may show a time-weighted return or money-weighted return and the value may be drastically different from your simple returns.

For example:

Screenshot of time-weighted return of the same moneylowl portfolioTime-weighted return of a stashaway portfolio

So which metric should I, the average investor, use?

Why are they so different?

TL;DR: Simple returns are more meaningful for typical investors;