Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to work out more, lose a few pounds, or just be more active in general. Despite the overwhelming trend in flows into low-cost, passive, index investment products, investors would be wise to adopt the same resolutions with their investments.
Actively managed mutual funds have been around for nearly a century and still command more than $11 trillion in assets (in the U.S.) However, over the past three years, more than $400 billion has flowed out of active mutual funds, mainly into passive ETFs. There have been many reasons cited for this migration, with the most common being higher costs and underperformance of active managers. But do active managers add value? The answer might surprise you.
Since 2001, using Morningstar categories as a proxy, active managers on average have delivered negative excess returns relative to applicable benchmarks. Some categories did outperform (high-and low-category returns shown in the boxes below), but on average, active managers failed to add value above and beyond their expenses.