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Passive Investing vs Active Investing: Which is Better?

Uncertainty creates anxiety and sleepless nights and ultimately leads to most passive investors “throwing in the towel” at exactly the wrong time. And unlike a passive strategy, an active strategy provides the opportunity to actually benefit from market drops. So not only does an active investor have the option to pull his money out of the market before things get rough, but he can actually ride the crash down and profit from it. He has a lot more flexibility and profit opportunity with an active strategy. Sure, this strategy has a chance to succeed, but only if an investor can handle turbulent markets and truly stick with the “stay invested” slogan.

Is active investing better than passive

As an active investor you therefore must think you have a better chance than these fund managers who can’t. Keep in mind that your investment approach doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You may prefer to hold both active and passive investments in your portfolio. An advisor can help you choose the right mix of active and passive investments to keep your short-term and long-term goals on track.

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You can read all about factor-based investing and its evidence here. As astute investors, we believe the 2nd camp is the way to go. They typically rely on broker tips, newsletters, stock recommendations and analyst reports – most of which have been proven over time to be deleterious to their wealth.

  • You don’t mind underperforming, especially in any given year, for the pursuit of investing mastery or even just enjoyment.
  • It rather tries to follow the investing trajectory of index funds and ETFs.
  • Similarly, investors can also reallocate to hold more equities in growing markets.
  • Though to reach that point is not as easy as it sounds.
  • Investing, just like any other skill, takes effort, time, and experience to master.

Deutsche Bank estimates passive funds will have as much total money as active ones within a few years. Only a small percentage of actively-managed mutual funds ever do better than passive index funds. Information provided on Forbes Advisor is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, nor do we recommend or advise individuals or to buy or sell particular stocks or securities.

Active Investing Vs. Passive Investing – Which One is Better?

So the fund companies don’t pay for expensive analysts and portfolio managers. In a best-case scenario, passive investors can look at their investments for 15 or 20 minutes at tax time every year active vs passive investing and otherwise be done with their investing. So you have the free time to do whatever you want, instead of worrying about investing. Active investing is what you often see in films and TV shows.

Is active investing better than passive

The biggest problems are where that isn’t the case, where you shouldn’t go 100% equity – because you’re approaching retirement or protecting a lump sum etc. The standard passive solution to this seems to be to buy ever larger chunks of bonds . Fine in a 40 year bond bull market, financial suicide (& a brewing mis-selling scandal?) now that it’s over.

Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool’s premium services. While the difference between 0.76% and 0.08% might not seem like a whole lot, it can add up over time. I like good food, movies, intelligent conversations and logical reasoning. I also dabble with options, factor-based investing, and data analytics. Factor investing is, as you can tell by now, a well-backed, well-researched, evidence-driven approach.

Passive Investing

It aims to formulate a diversified portfolio and minimize risk exposure. Investors heavily rely on leverage and margin trading to place large orders. I figure the only people getting rich on “active investing” are those who get paid when you trade.

Almost all you have to do is open an account and seed it with money. When you invest in a new Merrill Edge® Self-Directed account. US resident opens a new IBKR Pro individual or joint account receives 0.25% rate reduction on margin loans. John Bogle founded the Vanguard Group and before his death served as a vocal proponent of index investing. The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear.

Now, if the general market goes up, so will these assets and vice-versa. Even if you buy and forget and don’t pay much attention to these assets, you are through. Because you literally invested in a basket that represents your interest. So let us talk about the advantages of investing actively. This means that we not only aim to out-perform a passive strategy, but to do it in a way that is much safer and less risky.


In active investing, it’s very easy to hop on the bandwagon and follow trends, whether they’re meme stocksor pandemic-related exercise fads. Consider the investor who decided to get in on the at-home workout trend and buy Peloton at $145 on Jan. 4, 2021. As of July 2022, that stock is now trading for less than $10 now that the pandemic is all but over. What becomes very difficult with trend-based investing is determining if you’re at the tip of the trend or if there’s still room to grow.

In terms of mutual fund money, around 54% of U.S. mutual funds and ETF assets are in passive index strategies as of 2021. Active investors buy and sell securities based on their investment strategy as well as their belief that the security will outperform or underperform the market over a period of time. The goal of active investing is to beat the market, not to match the performance of a market index.

Why Active Investing is Better Than Passive Investing

Active managers rarely beat the market on a consistent basis, yet so many people still invest in those funds. My guess is because most investors simply look at the return of the fund in question and not the index, or just read an article about a ‘hot’ stock and buy in because it is ‘hot’. Active investors involve the ongoing buying and selling of individual stocks and other investments. That’s likely to have a much greater impact on returns either +ve or -ve than fees.

What Is Passive Investing?

After all, this has been a decade long debate between “active” and “passive” investing, and, you find merits in both the approaches too. There are many investment options for investing strategies. Here are the most common questions I get on active vs. passive portfolio management. This topic is a hot debate between individual investors and as a result, new investors trying to decide between the two have a lot of questions.

Using that information, managers buy and sell assets to capitalize on short-term price fluctuations and keep the fund’s asset allocation on track. Fees for both active and passive funds have fallen over time, but active funds still cost more. In 2018, the average expense ratio of actively managed equity mutual funds was 0.76%, down from 1.04% in 1997, according to the Investment Company Institute. Contrast that with expense ratios for passive index equity funds, which averaged just 0.08% in 2018, down from 0.27% in 1997. To sum it up, think of active investing as the one where the investor has control over the buying and selling decisions of the assets.

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management recommends that investors independently evaluate specific investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. Certain information contained herein may constitute forward-looking statements. Estimates of future performance are based on assumptions that may not be realized. Actual events may differ from those assumed and changes to any assumptions may have a material impact on any projections or estimates.

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Passive index funds are generally more tax-efficient than due to this less frequent trading versus an actively managed fund. Obviously, all investing comes with risks whether you’re investing actively or passively. In short, quality over quantity can be a strategy for even passive investors. Index funds and mutual funds were created for just these types of investors. Since the market provides investors with opportunities every single day, active investors have a better chance of finding those opportunities and jumping on board to realise better returns.

NerdWallet, Inc. is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. Its articles, interactive tools and other content are provided to you for free, as self-help tools and for informational purposes only. NerdWallet does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information in regard to your individual circumstances. Examples are hypothetical, and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific investment issues. Our estimates are based on past market performance, and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.

However, fundamental analysis of the data we have at our fingertips allows us to locate opportunities that can potentially lead to above-average returns. Most newer investors put money in, watch the account immediately fall a bit, and decide the risk of losing everything is too great. Passive investors can create their own diversified pool of investment as well. However, it requires a significantly higher level of skill and knowledge of trading. This strategy seeks over or undervalues assets, so it is suitable for highly volatile markets.

You are better off paying a lower fee and taking the return the stock market gives you. To some, this is an issue, but if the market returns on average 8% annually over the years, that is a solid return. Understand this isn’t to say you will never pay capital gains taxes. And as a result, the lower the chance of you paying taxes on capital gains.