There is Never a Good Time For Active Management – But Now Might Be One

By Jack Forehand (@practicalquant) —  When active managers are struggling relative to their benchmarks, you will often hear the same description of the problem. They will talk about how the current period has been a rough one for active management, but things are about to change and we are moving toward a “stock pickers market” where the criteria they use to select stocks will begin working again. They will argue that active management will rise again… Read More

Blending of the Best of Active and Passive

By John Reese (@guruinvestor) — (interested in Validea’s investing system and guru models? learn more about this webinar) Register now Like most things in life, investing in the stock market means different things to different people and encompasses a wide array of approaches—along with an endless supply of debate regarding which may be the best. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, and every investor should follow a methodology that aligns with their financial goals and unique level… Read More

The Active Versus Passive Debate is Not Binary

By John Reese (@guruinvestor) —  There is an undercurrent running throughout the investment community suggesting that active stock-picking is the root of many investor ills, and one that has robbed them of returns. I would argue, however, that the debate is more gray than black and white. Passive investing, an approach in which investors buy a broad cross-section of the market and weight holdings based on market capitalization, is a rules-based, disciplined strategy that strives… Read More

What Passive Investing Might Mean for Stock Pickers

Investors are trying to figure out how passive investing strategies might help, or hurt, individual stock picking, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. The article says that new research is showing “how the rise of passive investing—tracking a basket of securities rather than picking individual ones—is changing the makeup of markets.” Investors are reviewing factors such as the percentage of a stock owned by index funds and the flow of dollars… Read More

To Active Managers: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

Arguing that the shift to passive investing is “really just a reflection of an even bigger move away from high-cost to low-cost funds,” a recent Bloomberg article suggests that active managers might want to consider offering their services as part of a complementary role to boost overall portfolio returns. Several arguments are offered, including: “It lets active managers be truly active.” If benchmark returns are coming from the passive portion of a portfolio, this allows… Read More

Ritholtz on the Challenges of Active Investing

In a Bloomberg article from earlier this month, columnist Barry Ritholtz outlines some of the benefits and challenges inherent in active investing. He cites the following “desirable goals” and some corresponding impediments to those goals: Alpha: outperformance versus a benchmark. “Of all the reasons to be an active investor,” writes Ritholtz, “alpha may be the most difficult to achieve.” He underscores the significant hurdle that both fund managers and individual investors face when attempting to… Read More

Research to Help Choose Between Active or Passive Investing

A new research paper by Vanguard provides a framework for the decision between active and passive investing, according to an article on the company’s website. The paper intends to help the decision-making process by “enabling investors to think more explicitly about their expectations and the risks they’re willing to accept.” Here are some variables the paper cited as important for investors to consider: Gross alpha expectation—the “ability to achieve successful outcomes through skill in selecting… Read More

Indexing Beats Smart-Beta Track Record

Many smart-beta funds– which develop portfolios focusing on various factors such as low volatility, value, or momentum– have underperformed the market, especially after accounting for fees and expenses. This according to a recent MarketWatch article which concludes, “Tally another point in the pro-indexing column.” While the article points out that the rate of outperformance depends on the time frame analyzed, it says that “broadly, only 30% to 40% of smart beta exchange-traded funds beat their… Read More

Warning to Index Fund Investors

The more investors index, the higher the costs for those that don’t, according to a recent MarketWatch article. The benefit of indexing–lower costs and higher long-term returns—only exists, the article argues, if there is an “active, functioning market underlying whatever index a fund is trying to capture the performance of.” The problem arises, it asserts, in that the market can’t exist without active investments born of research and analysis that serve to set prices on individual… Read More

Study Finds that Stock Picking Probably Won’t Make Investors Rich

While some stock pickers can successful, investors should keep in mind that the odds are against them, according to a recent article inThe New York Times. “It’s not just that bull markets like this one eventually come to an end,” the article says, “It’s that over the long run, while the total stock market has prospered, most individual stocks have not.” It offers findings from finance professor Hendrik Bessembinder (of Arizona State University) showing that,… Read More