Reasons to Avoid Index Funds | Summary and Q&A

680.0K views
April 27, 2019
by
Ben Felix
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Reasons to Avoid Index Funds

TL;DR

Index funds are often misunderstood and undervalued by Canadians, with only 11.5% of investment fund assets in Canada being invested in index funds. This video debunks common misconceptions and provides compelling reasons to embrace index investing.

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Key Insights

  • 🖤 Only 11.5% of Canadian investment fund assets are invested in index funds, indicating a lack of understanding or appreciation for their benefits.
  • 😓 Active managers do not consistently outperform the market, casting doubt on the perception of index funds as riskier.
  • 👋 Picking only the "good" stocks is nearly impossible, as the market is driven by a small number of stocks that are challenging to identify in advance.
  • 💓 The majority of actively managed funds fail to beat their benchmark index, questioning the superiority of active management.
  • 🤞 Finding a skilled active manager is extremely difficult, and even skilled managers may attribute their success to luck rather than skill.
  • 💄 Statistically significant alpha, indicating excess risk-adjusted performance, requires many years of consistent outperformance, making it unlikely to identify skilled managers in advance.
  • ☢️ Active management introduces an additional level of risk, as active managers not only face market risk but also active risk, which does not have a positive expected return.

Transcript

  • I generally assume that most of you watching these videos are already fully on board with the idea that index investing makes sense. While stock picking and actively managed funds should be avoided like the plague. Most Canadians are apparently not on board with that idea. As at the end of 2018, only 11.5% of Canadian investment fund assets that ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why do many financial advisors believe index funds are terrible investments?

Many financial advisors have misconceptions about index funds and may promote active management due to a lack of understanding or incentives tied to actively managed funds. This misinformation keeps Canadians invested in actively managed funds.

Q: Are index funds riskier than actively managed funds?

No, index funds are not inherently riskier than actively managed funds. Data from Vanguard's study shows that active managers do not consistently outperform the market in bear markets, indicating that index funds do not possess a higher level of risk.

Q: Can active managers effectively pick only the "good" stocks?

Picking the "good" stocks is extremely difficult, as the quality of a company does not necessarily translate to quality stock returns. Historical data shows that a relatively small number of stocks drive market returns, making it challenging for active managers to consistently identify them.

Q: Can skilled active managers render index funds obsolete?

The belief that skilled managers can make index funds obsolete is unfounded. Studies have shown that any persistence in mutual fund outperformance is often due to luck rather than skill. With no reliable way to identify skilled managers ahead of time, this argument falls apart.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Many financial advisors believe index funds are terrible investments, resulting in Canadians investing heavily in actively managed funds.

  • Data shows that active managers do not consistently outperform the market, debunking the belief that index funds are riskier.

  • Picking only the "good" stocks is impossible, as the market is driven by a small number of stocks that are difficult to consistently identify.

  • The SPIVA Scorecard reveals that the majority of actively managed funds fail to beat their benchmark index, questioning the superiority of active management.

  • Finding a skilled active manager is challenging, and even skilled managers may attribute their success to luck rather than skill.

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