Polarized Opinions: Should You Be an Active or Passive Investor?

Are you an active or a passive investor?

If those terms are unfamiliar to you related to investing, you’re not alone. In fact, for years many people considered what is now ‘active investing’ to simply be, investing—the act of buying or selling individual stocks or bonds. While most people now tend to be passive investors, it’s still important to understand the difference between the two. Doing so helps you to make an informed decision about which type of investing you—and your money—are better suited for.

Differentiating Between Active and Passive Investments

Active investing typically involves mutual fund managers making the decisions for investors on a case by case basis. This is why you will often hear that managers are taking a “hands on” approach when speaking of active investments. Additionally, they hinge on a strategy that is aggressively fluid, always aiming to beat the stock market’s average returns.   

On the other hand, passive investing follows indexes of similar interests for “the long haul.” With passive investments, the strategy isn’t to trade faster than the market can keep up but instead to limit buying and selling within portfolios. While this strategy is certainly more stable, it also requires self-restraint; passive investors must resist the knee jerk reactions to market ebbs and flows.

The Pros and Cons

Here’s where it gets fun. Investors and wealth managers alike have strong opinions regarding which strategy works best. For most, there isn’t a middle of the road. Instead, proponents of either side feel that the speed at which the other operates isn’t sufficient enough to maximize profits.

Active Investing

The pros of active investing are clear: seek to make more money. It is also suggested that this helps to manage the associated risks, since informed managers seek to buy and sell effectively during short-term price fluctuations.

Contrastingly, those in opposition of active investing argue that the transaction costs triggered every time a stock is bought or sold negates too much of the profits. And those are not the only costs that you will incur. Additionally, fees you pay will help cover the expenses for the team actively managing your portfolio. Finally, it is also possible that due to the quickened pace, you would be responsible for short term gains taxes each year.

That’s IF the analysts are right—but a big loss if they aren’t.

Passive Investing

For passive investors, the slow and steady strategy doesn’t require a team of analysts, and therefore it is a much less expensive venture than active. It’s also unlikely that passive investments would trigger capital gains, minimizing concerns of additional taxes.

That said, the concerns voiced by those against passive investing are that there are simply too small of potential returns. By nature, active managers crave bigger wins and the speed of passive investing proves to be too slow to beat the market for the windfalls they have set their specially-trained eyes on.

Which Investment Strategy Wins?

It’s understandable to assume that larger profits, faster, would result in more money—but you should practice caution before navigating that route. While it’s true that the power to make bold moves results in large profits at times, it’s never a sure bet and unfortunately, it can sometimes result in equally large losses. Adding in the associated fees, passive investing quickly begins to look more lucrative if you have the patience to wait.

The good news?

While opinions are clearly split, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. In fact, many successful investments come from a blended strategy of the two. Contact us today at Snow Financial Group to learn how our expertise can help guide you to which investments are appropriate for your situation. Whether you’re ready to play it hard and fast or take your time, our team can help guide you in the best direction each time.

Any opinions are those of Paul Snow and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Neither Raymond James Financial Services nor any Raymond James Financial Advisor renders advice on tax issues, these matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Every type of investment, including mutual funds, involves risk. Risk refers to the possibility that you will lose money (both principal and any earnings) or fail to make money on an investment. Changing market conditions can create fluctuations in the value of a mutual fund investment. In addition, there are fees and expenses associated with investing in mutual funds that do not usually occur when purchasing individual securities directly. Manager Risk is the possibility that an actively managed mutual fund's investment adviser will fail to execute the fund's investment strategy effectively resulting in the failure of stated objectives. With Passive Funds, although they are designed to provide investment results that generally correspond to the price and yield performance of their respective underlying indexes, the funds may not be able to exactly replicate the performance of the indexes because of fund expenses and other factors. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

Spreading the Wealth, Mitigating the Risks: Why Diversification Is Essential to Your Success

More than 400 years after Miguel de Cervantes first warned us in his 1605 novel, Don Quixote, not to put all of our eggs in one basket, the message still rings true. As it pertains to investments, the key to success is often said in diversifying your portfolio. Diversification, however, is a two-fold process; when done correctly it can help you to reduce the risk of losses, while also maximizing your returns.

Diversifying Two Ways

  1. Within Asset Classes

    Ask anyone with a healthy portfolio what their investments are in and you might be surprised to hear “a little bit of everything.” Contrary to popular belief, successful investors rarely invest in one industry exclusively. The rationale supporting this is that your stocks should vary across multiple industries to prevent being impacted by one singular event.

    As a general rule, investments across various sectors perform better or worse at different times. Factors that could impact their success include market conditions, interest rates and/ or current global events.

    For example, if you were to invest solely in the pharmaceutical sector but then the FDA made a widespread announcement regarding drug manufacturers, the likelihood of all of your investments taking a hit would be increased. If you invested in pharma companies, software and airlines for example, the two latter industries would not be affected by the FDA announcement, and in turn, your investments would be protected.

  2. Between Asset Classes

    It’s not enough to diversify simply across multiple interests or industries, however. You should consider diversifying between asset classes—which is to say, stocks, cash, real estate, and bonds amongst other options. Allocating your assets in this way protects your portfolio from losing value across the board in the event of a failing investment.

Diversifying With the Help of Mutual Funds

Investment programs, such as mutual funds, are natural first steps for individual investors. With a mutual fund, your investment is spread across multiple groups of stocks, immediately delivering you a diversified portfolio. As an added benefit, mutual funds are managed by professional stock managers that have assessed any reasonable risks for you. This helps to alleviate the stress of deciding which stocks to invest in yourself.

The Bottom Line

If you’re just getting started with investments, it’s important to remember that there are no “safe bets”—but there are smart decisions. Choosing to start sooner rather than later is always recommended to ensure your investments have time to mature, weather any market volatility, and ultimately, generate consistent returns on a long-term basis.

From 401K planning to asset management and college planning to retirement, don’t wait until it’s too late to plan a future for yourself and loved ones. We understand the natural hesitation that comes with allocating your hard-earned financial reserves to the “unknown”—but we also know the incredible success that comes from doing so. At Snow Financial we can help you to determine the best investments for you, now and in the times ahead.

Any opinions are those of Paul Snow and not necessarily those of Raymond James.Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing is accurate or complete. There is no assurance any of the trends mentioned will continue or forecasts will occur. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Diversification and asset allocation do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.Investing involves risk regardless of strategy selected. Bond prices and yields are subject to change based upon market conditions and availability. If bonds are sold prior to maturity, you may receive more or less than your initial investment. Holding bonds to term allows redemption at par value. There is an inverse relationship between interest rate movements and bond prices. Generally, when interest rates rise, bond prices fall and when interest rates fall, bond prices generally rise. Real estate investments can be subject to different and greater risks than more diversified investments. Declines in the value of real estate, economic conditions, property taxes, tax laws and interest rates all present potential risks to real estate investments.Certain sector investments are subject to fierce competition and their products and services may be subject to rapid obsolescence.There are additional risks associated with investing in an individual sector, including limited diversification.

The Why and How of Leadership Compensation

The Why and How of Leadership Compensation

There’s no denying that there’s quite a conversation going on in the United States right now regarding pay. While others are spending their time discussing minimum wages for workers- including Amazon that just recently raised their minimum wage to $15/ hour- we’re more concerned with why a leadership team deserves to be compensated differently and how to do so without breaking the bank.