Active Management Using ETFs

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are mutual funds which are traded on the stock exchange and are therefore accessible to a wide group of investors. They represent share, bond or commodity indices. Because of their favourable cost structure, ETFs can come very close to matching index performance. As a special asset, ETFs are also protected from insolvency.

When buying ETFs, investors are investing in indices rather than single securities. This creates a diversifying effect and eliminates the risk associated with single securities. Decades of experience with actively managed funds have shown that only very few are able to exceed the benchmark (after costs). Even for funds with above-average results, it is often very difficult to determine after the fact whether success was due to coincidence or excellent management performance. And it is practically impossible to predict which active fund will generate positive results in the future.

Another significant advantage in favour of ETFs is the truth and clarity associated with these products. Investors benefit from the transparency associated with knowing where their funds

are invested. In contrast, actively managed funds may offer some unexpected surprises. For example, during the technology, media, and telecommunications bubble, many blue chip funds mutated towards new market funds. More current examples include money market funds, which theoretically strive to provide an absolutely secure investment. In this case, actively managed funds often invested in asset-backed securities (ABS), mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and other high-risk securities in order to increase performance. This led to price declines in some money market funds, which were not far behind those of equity funds.

Another advantage of ETFs is cost. Fund companies often employ several hundred fund managers or analysts to select individual securities. The resulting costs have to be borne by the investor in the form of a high management fee. This makes actively managed funds much more expensive than ETFs.

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