Almost three years after it was introduced, the Mandatory Provident Fund on average has returned almost zero, according to Standard & Poor's. Since launch in February 2001, the average fund has returned negative 0.33 per cent, despite rocketing gains in most funds last year of 19.21 per cent. The gyrating performance is a lesson to diversify asset allocation across defensive and aggressive strategies, according to William Reidy, managing director of Standard & Poor's Investment Services. 'For employees who do not have a balanced portfolio and try to time the market, they might have missed out on some very attractive investment opportunities,' he says. Those who invested solely in equity funds since inception would now be 7.49 per cent in the red. Fixed-income funds, on the other hand, returned 6.06 per cent in 2003 and 15.82 per cent since inception. Money market funds returned only 0.13 per cent in 2003, due to the global low interest rate environment. 'Work with financial advisers to determine the asset allocation that is most suitable ... and review that on, at least, an annual basis,' Mr Reidy says.