Why Index Funds Beat Actively Managed Mutual Funds

There has been a lot of research that explains why index funds outperform actively managed mutual fund. I thought I’d share a distilled version:

An index fund has low turnover because it knows what stocks it will invest in; whatever stocks are in that index. Furthermore, because it knows the stocks it is going to invest in, it doesn’t have to pay a manager big bucks to beat the stock market. That means low fund expense ratios.

Actively Managed Funds

On the flip side, an actively managed fund has to try to beat the stock market by constantly buying and selling stocks. This causes turnover, which spin out capital gains and dividends that you pay tax on in your taxable accounts.

Also, if you are expected to beat the market, you should earn big money too, so actively managed funds have to pay their managers high salaries that cause them to have high internal expenses.

Between high turnover, and high expenses, it makes it very difficult for actively managed mutual funds to beat an index fund. Of course, there is not guarantee that index funds will beat actively managed funds. There are some active funds that outperform indexes. But they usually don’t outperform index funds for long periods of time. And the chances of you getting in these active funds during the periods they do outperform the indexes, and out of these funds when they under perform the index, are slim.

About the author

Richard T. Feight, CFP®

Among independent financial advisors, Mr. Feight is one of the most well known and highly respected “Fee-Only” financial planners. Since 1997, Rich has dedicated his career to offering low cost “Fee-Only” comprehensive financial planning and investment advice. Rich assists his clients in organizing their finances so that they can retire on time.Rich is a graduate of Michigan State University where he received his degree in Finance. Rich has earned the Certificate of Financial Planning from The College for Financial Planning in Denver , Colorado that was comprised of intense graduate level classes grounding him in the various foundations of financial planning. He is a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner®) since 2001, meeting the experience, education requirements and passing the two-day, 10 hour exam, making him one of the few in the country who hold the designation. Since 2003, Rich has subscribed to the stringent and mandatory annual educational hours, experience, and code of ethics to meet the requirements to be a NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor. Out of the 800,000 individuals in the country who claim they are financial advisors/planners, fewer than 1,300 in the country qualify for the membership; Rich is one of them.

Rich is the President of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of Michigan . The FPA of Michigan is one of largest and influential chapter in the country. Rich was recently named President for Transportation Toastmasters Club 4776 downtown Lansing . He has been quoted in both local and national media from Noise Magazine to CNBC, and Bloomberg, and industry news publications such as Investment News and Financial Advisor Magazine. Rich enjoys public speaking and has spoke at industry educational meeting, high schools, and executive investment clubs, AARP conferences, and business educational seminars for companies looking to educate their employees. Rich views his role as a Fiduciary for his clients as the single biggest key to any planning relationship and strives to provide the most competent, unbiased and objective advice in the financial planning profession today.

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