Active funds, more high-paid value destroyers
While they have avoided the opprobrium heaped on bankers during the bear market, traditional active fund managers have quietly been proving that they too are often highly paid destroyers of value.
Active managers have few bushes left to hide behind, and the release of a new report from Standard & Poor’s uproots one of the few left: that somehow they provide protection during down markets, being able to go into cash and defensive stocks.
Check out the study for the gory details but the takeaway is that across styles and markets the majority of active fund managers, often the vast majority, simply can’t manage money well enough to make up for their own costs and the costs of all of those trades.
Over the five year market cycle 2004-2008, the S&P 500 outperformed 71.9 percent of actively managed large cap funds and most active funds in each of the nine U.S. domestic equity style boxes were outperformed by indices during the disaster of 2008.
At least casinos offer free drinks and valet parking.
Beyond tighter regulation and controls on leverage, a good outcome from the current morass would be a fundamental re-think by holders of capital about what exactly it is they are paying for from investment managers. Diversification? Not really, with so many closet index funds out there.
And spare me the argument that active managers earn their keep by holding company management’s feet to the fire. With precious few exceptions, this simply is not happening and arguably is a common good which individual investors are unwilling to pay for.
Most individual investors would likely be better off paying an annual fee for an asset allocation check-up and simply putting the advice to use via ETFs or index funds.
— At the time of publication James Saft did not own any direct investments in securities mentioned in this article. He may be an owner indirectly as an investor in a fund —