Isaac, a reader, sent a very useful link to Man Investment's web brochure, which happens to utilize the same data table we discussed in an earlier post on comparing fund returns across years. As he explained:
my colleagues and I attempted to get round this problem [Ed: of too much data and color in too little space] by using interactivity to selectively display the information in this style comparison tool
Successively mousing over different fund categories helps untangle the mess of colors -- to some extent. It is still difficult to notice patterns under this setup, e.g. how should the reader judge the relative merits of the black cells and the aquamarine cells?
The use of this table, animation notwithstanding, draws attention to the relative rankings of the fund returns. The use of equal-sized cells presupposes, incorrectly, that the difference between any two adjacent cells is constant. Examining the return numbers clearly shows this to not hold. In fact, a rank #1 fund in one year could have return much lower than a rank #5 fund in another year.
This next chart compares the hedge fund index to "world stocks". It points to another challenge of chart-making, that of consistency. Here, 2001-3 appeared to be amazing years for holding the hedge fund index although in the first chart, those same years had the hedge fund index in the middling ranks. (You may notice that the animation had a glitch here so that the bars are floating above 0%. On a recent visit to the site, I found out that they have fixed this error.)