Passive Have Surpassed Active Funds

In August, assets in U.S. index-based equity funds and ETFs topped those in active stock funds for the first time. This according to an article in Bloomberg.

“Stock picking isn’t dead,” the article reports, “But the development marks the official end of money managers’ position as the guiding force in the American stocks market—and the seemingly inexorable rise of low-cost index-driven investing.” If the shift keeps gaining steam, it adds, the implications for both industry professionals and investors can be significant.

Passive funds came on the scene in the 1970s, the article reports, and gained popularity with the advent of the bull market in 2009, “as cost-conscious investors rode benchmark indexes and most managers lagged.” The appeal is magnified by the cheaper fees charged by passive fund managers: approximately 10 cents a year per $100 of assets compared to 70 cents for active funds.

“Financial advisers are helping to fuel the move,” the article says, adding, “they can build client portfolios from an array of index offerings. That approach caps potential gains…it also limits manager risk—the chance that a star will suddenly stumble.”