Well, most funds nowadays know that the real money is made charging fees on institutional money where typical subscriptions tend to be in excess of $10 million. Therefore, most professional money managers cater for the institutional crowd which means returns need to be achieved at the lowest volatility you can accomplish. No institutional allocator wants to allocate to the next Richard Dennis.
Also, excessive volatility makes investors nervous and funds do their utmost to limit volatility to maintain their AUM. It is very difficult to get clients to invest, or even re-invest, so funds need to ensure that their investors are happy if they wish to remain in business.
However, trading your own money, averaging more than 12% p.a. should be possible to the best traders. Druckenmiller averaged 30% p.a. in his fund after fees and expenses. Unfortunately, most shoot for much higher returns and their accounts get blown up long before they ever have a chance to get there.
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I was slightly negative in both 2014 and 2015 with the losses being larger than I'd like, but small enough not to do serious damage to my account. Should we start getting some decent trends, then I am already well positioned to make those losses back and then some. In good years, I have banked more than 100%, but those type of years don't come along that often.
You probably know that I meant annual returns over a sufficient number of years. Achieving 12% every year was the dream Madoff sold. In any case, when I talk of the best traders, I generally talk of those who can really hit it out of the park, whereas I suspect you would think of those achieving the best return vs drawdown (or risk) numbers.
As my lifestyle depends on my trading returns I prefer consistency to wild swings. Number 0ne priority is capital preservation. Took me a long time to realize that you only have to win once in a while to make a decent living as long as you keep the losses small.
It is hard to find the Truth when you start your search with a preconceived notion of what the Truth will be.