Article: Q1 Preliminary Plan Universe Performance

Brendan Cooper | April 26, 2023

Defined Benefit plans in the Investment Metrics Plan Sponsor Universes posted a median net return of 4.47% for the first quarter of 2023. Plan performance rebounded over the last two quarters with a median return of 10.07%, after three consecutive negative quarters to start the calendar year in 2022. For the quarter, corporate plans posted the strongest performance with a median return of 5.14%, though their one year returns still lagged behind other plan types by at least 2%.  Endowment & Foundations had the strongest performance over the previous two quarters with a median return of 11.43%.

All Defined Benefit: 749, Corporate: 163, Public: 271, Taft-Hartley: 202, End. & Fnd: 685, Health & Welfare: 184
Figure 1: Preliminary median performance by plan type, Q1 2023. Source: Investment Metrics, a Confluence company

The strong results in the first quarter of 2023 were driven by positive performance across equity, fixed income, and alternatives, which returned 6.47%, 2.93% and 1.31% at a median level respectively. Real estate, however, was negative for the quarter with a median return of -3.54%.  Over the last two quarters, real estate was the only negative performing major asset class with a median return of -7.69%. Higher interest rates and a decreasing demand for office spaces have played a role in the poor performance over this time.

Figure 2: Preliminary median performance by asset class, Q1 2023. Source: Investment Metrics, a Confluence company

Investment Metrics Plan Universe

Investment Metrics Plan Universe is the industry’s most granular analytics tool for plan sponsors including standard and custom peer group comparisons of performance, risk, and asset allocations by plan type and size. The data is sourced directly from over 4,000 institutions using our reporting and analytics solutions including investment consultants, advisors, and asset owners. Plan Universe is updated quarterly and typically available on or near the following schedule: preliminary data available on the 14th business day after quarter end, a second cut on the 21st business day, and final cut on the 29th business day, the data includes 20+ years’ history on:

  • Trust Funds, Corporates, Public Plans, Taft-Hartley, Endowments & Foundations, High Net Worth, Health & Welfare, and custom groups.
  • Asset Allocations broken into equity (US, global, global ex-US), fixed income (US, global, and global ex-US), alternatives, real estate (public and private), multi-asset and cash. Emerging Markets allocations are available for equities and debt securities.
  • Net and gross performances displayed by quartile with full percentiles via download.
  • With all information aggregated by Plan Size.


The material presented in this document is an assessment of the market environment as of the date indicated; is subject to change; and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any funds or any issuer or security or similar.

This document contains general information only, does not consider an individual’s financial circumstances and should not be relied upon for an investment decision. Rather, an assessment should be made as to whether the information is appropriate in individual circumstances and consideration should always be given to consult a Financial Advisor before making an investment decision. 

Investment Metrics, a Confluence company, does not provide investment advice and nothing in this document should be considered any form of advice. Investment Metrics accepts no liability whatsoever for any information provided or inferred in this document.


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Investment Metrics, a Confluence Company, is a global leading provider of investment analytics, reporting, data and research solutions that help institutional investors and advisors achieve better financial outcomes, grow assets and retain clients with clear investment insights.