Gain-To-Pain Ratio

Updated on April 10, 2024
Article byJyotsna Suthar
Edited byJyotsna Suthar
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Gain-To-Pain Ratio?

The gain-to-pain ratio (GPR) is a popular formula used to compare the sum of gains achieved with the pain/loss an investor suffers. It is used mainly in project management, trading, and financial management. The sole purpose of this formula is to assess the risk-reward tradeoff for a particular investment.

Gain-To-Pain Ratio

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The gain-to-pain ratio calculation is also a vital component of the portfolio optimization theory. It allows investors to evaluate the risk taken against the profits gained. So, it is easy to create an optimal strategy to reduce the losses that occur on investments.

Key Takeaways

  • The gain-to-pain ratio refers to the ratio that measures the sum profit booked as compared to the total losses incurred. 
  • It is a vital component of project management and portfolio optimization. It helps to evaluate the performance of an investment, asset, or fund. 
  • Every value states a different interpretation. For example, more than one GPR value indicates higher returns than loss. 
  • A value lower than one indicates potential losses; however, a value equal to one has the same distribution of losses as profits. 

Gain-To-Pain Ratio Explained

The gain-to-pain ratio considers the net cumulative gains received compared to the losses incurred on the same. It is the formula used to measure the effective returns received from an investment. As a result, it is feasible to measure the performance of an investment or trading strategy. For instance, if a trader has bought a stock at $20 and sold it at $50 after three years, the gain-to-pain ratio is positive. However, if the denominator is higher than the numerator, the ratio will be less than 1, indicating that losses outweigh gains.

The gain-to-pain ratio calculation compares risk and reward tradeoffs every month. Likewise, it can also be calculated on trade-by-trade data. So, an investor can choose to perform cumulative calculations every month or by each trade. However, the formula remains the same. Following is the gain-to-pain ratio formula:

Gain-to-pain (GPR) ratio = Total sum of the gains (profits) received/The total sum of the absolute value of losses occurred 

Here, the numerator refers to the profits the trader receives on an investment. And denominator (pain) covers the losses incurred on the same investment. So, if the GPR value is equal to 1, it suggests that the gains are equal to the losses. But, if the GPR value is less than 1, it indicates that the losses exceed the gains. Instead, the strategy led to huge losses. However, if the value exceeds 1, the investment has yielded much better returns than expected. 

How To Use It To Measure Fund Performance?

Traders and investors can use the gain-to-pain ratio to measure the performance of their portfolios and mutual funds. It allows them to compare the risks associated with the fund and how much returns are generated from it. However, there are certain steps to it. Let us look at them:

  • Step #1 – Data collection: The first and foremost step is to collect historical data for the past few quarters or months. For example, the collection of data, including the historical returns and losses that occurred in the past year.
  • Step #2 – Calculating the total gains: After collecting the respective details, the next step is calculating the returns received. One can look at all the positive values and sum them to find this value. 
  • Step #3 – Determining the total losses incurred: Likewise, all the negative values (or returns) in the fund performance must be considered and totaled up.
  • Step #4 – Computation of GPR value: Calculate the value using the gain-to-pain ratio formula. It considers the sum value of gains and losses in a ratio format. However, the calculation may occur twice if there is more than one fund. 
  • Step #5 – Interpretation of results: The investor can determine the fund’s performance in that period based on the value obtained. If the value is positive, it indicates a well-performing fund with better returns. 
  • Step #6 – Comparison: The last step is to compare the results obtained every year or fund-wise. For instance, the fund may produce negative returns in the first half and generate positive returns later. Here, the risk arising in the former period has already been covered in the later stages. Likewise, the GPR value of two funds can be compared to determine the risk-return tradeoff of each.


Let us look at some gain-to-pain ratio examples to comprehend the concept in a better manner:

Example #1

Suppose trader Anna records profit on 13 days and experiences losses on 4 days in a specific month. The total gains amount to $1000, and the total losses are $500

To calculate the gain-to-pain ratio, we use the formula:

Gain-to-pain ratio = Total sum of gains / Total sum of absolute value of losses

In this example:

Gain-to-pain ratio = $1,000 / $500 = 2

So, the gain-to-pain ratio for this day trader’s profit and loss in the specified month is 2. This means that the trader gained $2 for every dollar lost, indicating a relatively favorable risk-reward ratio for their trading activities during that month.

Example #2

Another example includes the application of this ratio in the other investment options. For instance, suppose Sam invested his funds in the bonds and cryptos. Initially, the investment value suddenly dropped to negative points. As a result, Sam decided to find the GPR value of his formula. After analysis and calculation, he concluded that the investment had given negative returns majorly, but the jump that took off in the last few months covered the entire loss. Therefore, the value of the gain-to-pair ratio turned out to be positive.


The gain-to-pain ratio has a strong significance among investors and other participants in the market. It helps them to analyze and track their portfolio daily. Also, it has different benefits in other contexts, too. Let us look at them:

  • Development of an investment strategy: This ratio is beneficial when the business or investor invests their money in assets. The fund’s overall value deteriorates since the returns are non-promising due to market volatility. As a result, the GPR can help in risk assessment and curating an optimal portfolio strategy in return. 
  • Measuring the fund or asset’s performance: It also acts as a performance metric for evaluating the performance of a fund or asset. In simple words, it indicates to an investor that a low value is potentially a result of the poor performance of the asset. Likewise, a higher value means the portfolio has overperformed the market expectations. 
  • Understanding the risk-return tradeoffs on investments: Similarly, traders can determine the risks and returns associated with a particular investment. It allows them to compare both factors and take effective steps to reduce them to a minimum. 
  • Helps in comparative analysis: Investors can compare their different investment options with the gain-to-pain ratios. They can technically collect the historical data of the past few years, compute the value, and make decisions on investment. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does the optimal gain-to-pain ratio vary?

The gain-to-pain ratio is a popular metric allowing traders to understand their investment strategy better. However, it can change with different assets and trading strategies. For instance, liquid strategies can have a GPR value of around 1.0 to 1.5. The latter value (1.5) indicates an excellent point. Likewise, a GPR of 1.0 is also a good one compared to the value below.

Who is the pioneer of the concept of “gain-to-pain ratio?”

Trader and author Jack Schwager introduced the concept of the gain-to-pain ratio in his book ‘Market Wizards’ in 1989. Schwager has explained the link between risk-returns.

What is a good gain-to-pain ratio, as per Peter Brandt?

According to Peter Brandt, the ideal gain-to-pain ratio depends on three years’ worth of historical data. The value must be around 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0. However, having a higher value creates an outstanding image of the fund or investment strategy.

This article has been a guide to what is Gain-To-Pain Ratio. Here, we explain its examples, importance, and how to use it to measure fund performance. You may also find some useful articles here –

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