When looking at investments, it’s very important to consider your objectives. The time frame is a significant part of that, as is your tolerance towards risk (investment volatility) and your income needs.
Once you have established your objectives, you will have an understanding of the level of risk and income you require from your investment. With these, you can then start looking at managers.
When comparing investment managers, you should make sure you’re comparing those of the same risk level. Next, you should get an understanding of the manager’s investment philosophy – are they aligned with what you’re trying to achieve? Then, when looking at performance, you should note that past performance is not an indicator of future performance. What can help greatly is to go back through the investment manager’s performance reports (if they provide them) and get an understanding of the manager’s thought process. Is it sensible, logical, coherent, and, most importantly, consistent not just over time, but with the investment manager’s stated philosophy?
Finally, you should also consider the other characteristics of the investment; such as transparency, ability to tailor your investment portfolio, access to advisers, and importantly, how it fits into the rest of your investment portfolio.
Considering all the above will give you a much better understanding of investment managers, and make you more comfortable when your investment inevitably experiences volatility.