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UK Study: Pension Funds Losing Money on Active Investment Strategies

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A UK investment firm has released a study measuring the effectiveness of active versus passive investment strategies over the last five years. Their verdict: passive strategies outperform their active counterparts. From Every Investor:

Research from Charles Stanley Pan Asset (CSPA), a specialist fiduciary and multi-asset investment manager, has found that a passive strategy could give large pension schemes an additional £3.8m return per year.

It revealed that over five years to the end of April 2014, passive funds in 14 liquid asset classes have outperformed median active funds by 4.73% on average.

Indeed, in one instance, Emerging Market Bonds, this difference was 12% over the five year period.

The same analysis to the end of June 2013 produced an outperformance of 6.5%. This additional revenue has been coined the ‘Passive Fund Premium’, which is the return to be expected from a portfolio of passive funds over an equivalent portfolio of active funds.

In 2013, CSPA published ‘The Governance Revolution’, which proposed that UK institutional pension schemes, particularly smaller schemes with around £50m of assets, should consider adopting a 100% passive approach, and in doing so could save £3m over five years.

The study comes with a big caveat: The firm that conducted the study, CSPA, isn’t quite a neutral observer in all this. The firm specializes in helping pension funds make passive investments, so they certainly have an interest in promoting passive strategies.

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