Mutual Funds
by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: 2023-07-04T12:21:28+05:30
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The Information Ratio (IR) stands out as a critical metric for assessing investment portfolios' performance in the complex world of financial markets. Designed to measure the excess returns generated by a portfolio relative to a benchmark index, IR helps investors and fund managers make informed decisions. In this article, we take a look into the concept of the Information Ratio, its uses, and the vital role it plays in financial decision-making.

What is Information Ratio?

The Information Ratio (IR) is a quantitative measure used to evaluate the performance of an investment portfolio or financial asset compared to a benchmark index, factoring in the volatility of the returns. The benchmark typically represents the market, an industry, or a specific sector. IR not only evaluates how well a portfolio or asset is matching and exceeding the benchmark's returns but also incorporates the standard deviation component, known as tracking error, to assess the consistency with which the portfolio achieves this outperformance. A low tracking error signifies consistency, while a high tracking error indicates a more volatile performance. When examining investment results, it's helpful to ask, "what is a good information ratio?" as this can guide your expectations and inform your decisions based on the risk-adjusted performance of a fund or portfolio manager.

Uses of the Information Ratio

The Information Ratio serves as a valuable tool for both investors and fund managers. Investors often refer to the IR when considering investments in mutual funds or ETFs, using it as a basis to gauge a fund manager's competency and comparing managers who employ similar investment strategies. On the other hand, fund managers utilise IR to measure their performance and determine their service charges; the higher a portfolio manager's IR, the higher their service charge. Ultimately, the Information Ratio helps investors and fund managers make well-informed decisions by providing insights into a portfolio's performance relative to a benchmark, considering consistency and risk-adjusted returns.

The formula for Calculating the Information Ratio

Calculating the Information Ratio involves several steps that are easy to follow. Here's a step-by-step process to determine the Information Ratio:

Step 1: Note down the daily returns of a portfolio across a specific period, such as a month, quarter, or year.

Step 2: Calculate the average of those returns, which represents the portfolio's rate of return.

Step 3: Determine the benchmark index's rate of return in the same manner, using the same period.

Step 4: Subtract the benchmark returns (Step 3) from the portfolio's returns (Step 2) to compute the difference, which represents the excess returns of the portfolio.

Step 5: Calculate the standard deviation of the excess returns of the portfolio. This value represents the tracking error, a measure of the consistency with which the portfolio "tracks" and exceeds its benchmark returns.

Step 6: To calculate the Information Ratio, divide the difference in returns (from Step 4) by the tracking error (from Step 5).

Information Ratio Formula: IR = (Portfolio Rate of Returns - Benchmark Rate of Returns) / Tracking Error

To determine the annualised Information Ratio, multiply the IR by the square root of 252, which represents the typical number of trading days in a year.

Annualised IR formula: [(Portfolio Rate of Returns - Benchmark Rate of Returns) / Tracking error] x √252

Example of Information Ratio

Let's consider an example to better understand the calculation of the Information Ratio:

Assume we have two fund managers, Manager A and Manager B, with the following annualised rates of return and tracking errors:

●    Manager A has an annualised return of 14% and a tracking error of 6%.
●    Manager B has an annualised return of 11% and a tracking error of 4%.

Suppose the benchmark index, which could be a market index like the S&P 500, has an annualised return of 9%. We will now calculate the Information Ratios for both managers using the formula:

IR = (Portfolio Rate of Returns - Benchmark Rate of Returns) / Tracking Error

For Manager A: IR_A = (14% - 9%) / 6% = 5% / 6% = 0.833

For Manager B: IR_B = (11% - 9%) / 4% = 2% / 4% = 0.5

In this example, Manager A has a higher Information Ratio (0.833) compared to Manager B (0.5). This indicates that Manager A has generated more consistent excess returns relative to the benchmark index when considering the tracking error or the risk taken to achieve those returns. Based on the Information Ratio, investors may prefer Manager A for their ability to outperform the benchmark with a higher level of consistency.

To better comprehend investment performance, understanding the "information ratio meaning" is essential, as it demonstrates the excess return a portfolio manager achieves relative to a benchmark, divided by the tracking error. 

How is Information Ratio Useful?


The Information Ratio is a valuable tool for investors when evaluating investment options, particularly mutual funds or ETFs. When assessing a mutual fund, it's important to consider the "information ratio mutual fund" as a crucial performance metric to evaluate risk-adjusted returns. By comparing the Information Ratios of different fund managers or investment strategies, investors can identify those with a more consistent track record of outperformance, thereby making more informed decisions about their investments. However, it is essential to remember that past performance is not always indicative of future results, and the Information Ratio should be used in conjunction with other metrics for a comprehensive analysis. 

Fund manager 

For fund managers, the Information Ratio serves as a performance measure that demonstrates their ability to outperform a benchmark index consistently. A higher Information Ratio indicates better and more consistent performance, which can be utilised to showcase their skill and expertise in managing portfolios. Furthermore, the ratio helps fund managers identify areas of improvement in their investment strategies, enabling them to fine-tune their approach to minimise tracking errors and maximise excess returns. A higher Information Ratio can also justify higher service fees for fund managers, as it reflects their ability to deliver superior risk-adjusted performance for their clients. 

Information Ratio vs Sharpe Ratio

Both the Information Ratio (IR) and the Sharpe Ratio are metrics used to assess the risk-adjusted performance of investment portfolios. Nonetheless, there exist notable distinctions between them. The Information Ratio measures the excess returns generated by a portfolio relative to a benchmark index, accounting for the portfolio's tracking error. In contrast, the Sharpe Ratio compares the portfolio's excess returns to a risk-free rate of return, such as the yield on a Treasury security, dividing the result by the portfolio's standard deviation.

While the Information Ratio focuses on the consistency of a portfolio's performance in outperforming a benchmark, the Sharpe Ratio emphasises the portfolio's risk-adjusted returns over the risk-free rate. Investors may prefer the Information Ratio when comparing investment performance against index funds, as these funds typically serve as benchmarks for evaluating active fund management. In contrast, the Sharpe Ratio may be more appealing when comparing investments with different risk levels.

What are the Limitations of IR?

●    Subjective interpretation: Investors with different risk tolerances and investment objectives may interpret the Information Ratio differently based on factors such as age, income, and financial situation.
●    Incomparable portfolios: Comparing funds with different securities, asset allocations, and entry points may result in skewed comparisons, as the Information Ratio alone does not provide a complete picture of the funds' underlying strategies and risk profiles.
●    Overemphasis on past performance: The Information Ratio is based on historical data, which may not necessarily be indicative of future performance.
●    Limited to benchmark-relative performance: The Information Ratio is focused on the excess returns relative to a benchmark index, making it less useful for assessing absolute returns or comparing investments that do not have a clear benchmark.
●    May not capture infrequent extreme events: The Information Ratio relies on the standard deviation to measure risk, which may not fully capture the impact of rare but extreme events, such as market crashes or financial crises.

What’s the Difference between the Information and Sharpe Ratio?


Information Ratio

Sharpe Ratio


Measures the risk-adjusted excess returns relative to a benchmark index.

Measures the risk-adjusted excess returns relative to a risk-free rate, such as a treasury security.


Evaluates a portfolio manager's ability to generate consistent excess returns compared to a benchmark.

Evaluates the overall risk-adjusted performance of a portfolio compared to a risk-free investment.


(Portfolio Return - Benchmark Return) / Tracking Error

(Portfolio Return - Risk-Free Rate) / Standard Deviation of Portfolio Returns

Risk measurement

Tracking Error (standard deviation of excess returns)

Standard Deviation of Portfolio Returns


Benchmark index (e.g., Nifty 50, BSE Sensex)

Risk-free rate (e.g., Indian Government Bond yields)

Use in Indian market

Comparing actively managed mutual funds or portfolios against Indian market indices.

Assessing the risk-adjusted performance of portfolios relative to Indian risk-free assets.


Information Ratio is more relevant for comparing the performance of actively managed funds against specific market indices, while the Sharpe Ratio helps to evaluate the risk-adjusted performance of portfolios with respect to risk-free assets, such as Indian Government Bonds.

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