What comes to mind when you hear the word confidence? You might think about the assurance of your own ability to accomplish a task or to succeed in some endeavor, great or small. You might also consider it as faith in somebody else; that they will do right or act in a trustworthy manner. Confidence in this light can also be associated with things that act in a predictable or reliable manner. It can mean a secret shared and it can describe the relationship of trust that exists to make sharing the secret possible.

Last week in Measuring Uncertainty I focused on the pitfalls of using performance alone to measure progress toward reaching your financial goals. It’s only natural to use returns because they are the universal language of the financial services industry. And if the language of the industry is returns, then the methodology for producing them is active management; where managers make specific investments with a primary goal of outperforming an investment benchmark index. But with return alone as your guide, you are left to wonder just how effectively your managers are improving your situation relative to your goals, how are they managing your wealth?

Do you ever wonder if you will have enough money to see you through the surprises and challenges ahead? Or, if you are blessed with abundance, do you ever think how nice it would be to quantify your surplus, find purposes for it, to enjoy the benefits today; rather than leaving it to the next generation to fight over? Truth is, most people have no idea whether their plans are over- or under-funded, or by how much. They spend most of their time worrying about return.

Recovery remains firmly on track as revealed by the government’s first of three estimates on the growth of US Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of this year. While a little below expectations, the 3.2% gain is solid and continues on the heels of a 5.6% pace set in the fourth quarter. The six months together comprise the strongest advance since 2003.