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Active Investing: Attempting to Add Value
Proponents of active management believe that by picking the right investments, taking advantage of market trends, and attempting to manage risk, a skilled investment manager can generate returns that outperform a benchmark index. For example, an active manager whose benchmark is the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (S&P 500) might attempt to earn better-than-market returns by overweighting certain industries or individual securities, allocating more to those sectors than the index does. Or a manager might try to control a portfolio's overall risk by temporarily increasing the percentage devoted to more conservative investments, such as cash alternatives.
An actively managed individual portfolio also permits its manager to take tax considerations into account. For example, a separately managed account can harvest capital losses to offset any capital gains realized by its owner, or time a sale to minimize any capital gains. An actively managed mutual fund can do the same on behalf of its collective shareholders.
However, an actively managed mutual fund's investment objective will put some limits on its manager's flexibility; for example, a fund may be required to maintain a certain percentage of its assets in a particular type of security. A fund's prospectus will outline any such provisions, and you should read it before investing.
Passive Investing: Focusing on Costs
Advocates of unmanaged, passive investing--sometimes referred to as indexing--have long argued that the best way to capture overall market returns is to use low-cost market-tracking index investments. This approach is based on the concept of the efficient market, which states that because all investors have access to all the necessary information about a company and its securities, it's difficult if not impossible to gain an advantage over any other investor. As new information becomes available, market prices adjust in response to reflect a security's true value. That market efficiency, proponents say, means that reducing investment costs is the key to improving net returns.
Indexing does create certain cost efficiencies. Because the investment simply reflects an index, no research is required for securities selection. Also, because trading is relatively infrequent--passively managed portfolios typically buy or sell securities only when the index itself changes--trading costs often are lower. Also, infrequent trading typically generates fewer capital gains distributions, which means relative tax efficiency.
Note: Before investing in either an active or passive fund, carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses, which can be found in the prospectus available from the fund. Read it carefully before investing. And remember that indexing--investing in a security based on a certain index--is not the same thing as investing directly in an index, which cannot be done.
Blending Approaches with Asset Allocation
The core/satellite approach represents one way to employ both approaches. It is essentially an asset allocation model that seeks to resolve the debate about indexing versus active portfolio management. Instead of following one investment approach or the other, the core/satellite approach blends the two. The bulk, or "core," of your investment dollars are kept in cost-efficient passive investments designed to capture market returns by tracking a specific benchmark. The balance of the portfolio is then invested in a series of "satellite" investments, in many cases actively managed, which typically have the potential to boost returns and lower overall portfolio risk.
Note: Bear in mind that no investment strategy can assure a profit or protect against losses.
Tactical vs. Strategic Asset Allocation
The idea behind the core-and-satellite approach to investing is somewhat similar to practicing both tactical and strategic asset allocation.
Strategic asset allocation is essentially a long-term approach. It takes into account your financial goals, your time horizon, your risk tolerance, and the historic returns for various asset classes in determining how your portfolio should be diversified among multiple asset classes. That allocation may shift gradually as your goals, financial situation, and time frame change, and you may refine it from time to time. However, periodic rebalancing tends to keep it relatively stable
in the short term.
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Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016