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Passive vs Active Fund Management Argument Rages On

17-November-2012
17-November-2012 7:48
in General
by Admin

It has been the argument for many years – Does active fund management generate better investment returns? The general accepted conclusion has been yes but only for the best managers whereas the rest under-perform. So the question as an investor is it worth the additional cost?

Personally, I agree with the above points and  believe a combination of strategies is best – the point is, if active fund management generate above sector average returns on a consistent basis then by selecting, monitoring and reviewing we will achieve the best risk adjusted returns. The question is which sectors to combine and this is where my expertise adds value and my expectation of betters risk-adjusted returns.

Premier Fund Management has challenged the  opinion that average fund managers always tend to under-perform the associated indices.

Conventional measures of the “average” fund manager’s performance – the use of fund sector averages based on the mean performance of all funds in the sector – have long appeared to support this view. Many experts have tended to attribute the under-performance to the effects of active fund management fees on the funds’ performance.

However, research by Premier Asset Management based on ‘weighted averages’, which give bigger funds a greater influence on sector average calculations to reflect the true average return in the sector, shows that in most cases this is not the case.

In the IMA Asia Pacific excluding Japan sector the conventional sector average return of funds in the past five years was 27% – far lower than the FTSE World Asia ex-Japan index gain of 34.8%. However, when the amount of assets in each fund is taken into account, the actual weighted average performance experienced by investors was 37.4% – better than the index, the research shows.

In the IMA Global Emerging Markets sector the conventional average performance was a 23.9% gain, compared with an MSCI Emerging Markets gain of 27.4 per cent. However, the weighted sector average gain from funds was actually 32.2%, the research shows.

It also shows that, while the weighted average fund performance was not necessarily better than stockmarket indices in all sectors, it was better than the conventional sector average in seven out of the eight sectors that were examined. This suggests that the existing reported sector averages published to investors understate the returns enjoyed by most clients of actively managed funds.

The one sector where the conventional sector average was higher than the weighted average was IMA North America – suggesting that the biggest funds in that sector actually under-perform the smaller funds on average.

Simon Evan-Cook, investment manager on Premier’s multi-asset team and author of the research, said the weighted average calculations were a better method of judging funds because more investors were affected by the performance of larger funds. “As a whole, the industry is understating the performance and value of active management,” he said.

Ed Moisson, head of UK research at Lipper, said Premier’s method was “logical” and demonstrated the strength of larger funds’ track records, but added it did not tell the whole story.

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