Every day investors are inundated with noise — almost all of it irrelevant — about what they should do. Then, when there really is something important — information that will genuinely help you achieve better returns — it often gets drowned out. Such is the case with a recent study on the merits of active fund management.
The results of our latest CFA Institute Financial NewsBrief poll reflect the tug-of-war between the two camps in the long-running active vs. passive debate.
Investment managers believe in diversifying their portfolio of investments, but what about their human resources portfolio?
Active management is under siege from many corners. Yet many of these alpha wounds are self-inflicted. Chief among them is benchmark idolatry.
The travails of active managers in recent years have been well-chronicled. Their poor collective performance has led investors to flee actively managed funds for passive products and others to question their relevance. To better understand the challenges facing active managers today, the industry’s response to those challenges, and the likely future state of the industry, CFA Institute is hosting an online forum as part of its Future of Finance initiative.
The poor performance of active management has been well chronicled of late but the active fund management industry is not going down without a fight. Apologists have been quick to point to artificially low interest rates as one factor dragging down the collective returns of stock pickers. Index huggers — those managers with low tracking error funds and almost no hope of outperforming their benchmark after fees — are also to blame. In response, active managers are pointing to their “active share” — a measure of how much a portfolio’s holdings differ from those of its benchmark — and research that suggests funds with the highest active share do indeed beat their benchmarks. A review of just-filed quarterly 13F reports reveals that some of the most prominent fund managers truly embrace their role as active portfolio managers.
Active management is a tough gig. But knowing what does not work at least gets investors a step closer to finding their own secret sauce. Here are a few suspicious approaches some active managers pursue. Rather than adding alpha, these are more like illustrations of how not to beat the market.
Net flows into passively managed funds have surged in recent years, leaving active managers to pick up the crumbs. And earlier this year, none other than Warren Buffett warned of the high costs of active management and gave a qualified endorsement of indexing.
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