Active vs. Passive Investing: Explore the Difference

Active vs. Passive Investing: Explore the Difference
Nakla Team
Fintech Group
Dec 6, 2022
Mins Read
Last Updated
Feb 8, 2023
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The conversation can instantly turn into a heated argument when talking about active or passive investing. The primary reason for this is that the wealth professionals and investors are often found supporting one technique over the other. Though passive investing has garnered more eyeballs amongst the investors, there are several reasons that it outshines active investing as well. Keep reading this article to witness the significant differences between active vs. passive investing.

Active Investing Overview

Active investing is a technique that entails regular trading intending to outperform average index returns. It's certainly what comes to mind when you think of Wall Street traders, albeit you can now do it from the smartphone with various applications. 

You may undertake active investing individually or hire experts to do it for you via actively handled funds. These offer you a pre-assembled portfolio comprising hundreds of assets.

Active fund managers consider various information about each investment in their portfolios. This ranges from quantitative and qualitative information about stocks to more significant market and economic patterns. Managers use this data to trade assets to profit from short-term price movements and maintain the fund's asset allocation on pace.

Without such ongoing monitoring, even the most painstakingly structured and actively managed portfolio might succumb to turbulent market changes. It may incur short-term deficits that could jeopardize long-term objectives.

Passive Investing Overview

Passive investment is investing over time with relatively little buying and selling. It stresses a buy-and-hold approach, while such an approach can also be implemented through active investment. Passive investments frequently monitor an index, such as the Nasdaq 100. This  implies that when a stock is included or withdrawn from the index, the fund instantly purchases or trades that stock.

Passive investments, on average, do not beat the industry but instead operate in accordance with it. This implies that if the equity index the money is monitoring has a bad year, so will your portfolio.

Passive investing does not need regular attention. This is because it is a set-it-and-forget-it strategy that seeks to mimic market efficiency. This results in fewer operations and much cheaper rates, particularly when it comes to finances. That is why financial planners choose it for retirement savings and other investing goals.

Active vs. Passive Investing Based on Various Factors

Active vs. Passive Investing- Transparency in Investments:

At periodic intervals, active investing gives details on all investments. Nevertheless, investors may not be able to obtain facts about the investment portfolio at any moment. Alternatively, passive investing entails building a portfolio of assets in the same proportion as the benchmark index it monitors. As a result, investors may be informed of all the investments done by them and underlying assets at any moment.

Passive Trading Vs. Active Trading- Cost:

The cost is a vital difference between the two terms. Actively managed funds are substantially higher priced than passive funds that monitor an index. If you choose the equities yourself via a brokerage account online, this is the case.

A typical pricing model from actively managed funds appears like this:

Management cost: 2%

Performance cost: 20%

The performance fee is derived on the basis of the rise in the net asset value of the customer's fund holdings. For instance, an investor holds $1 million in hedge fund shares. Later, when the fund management improves the price by $100,000, the client would pay $20,000, or 20% of the rise.

Nonetheless, actively managed mutual funds impose a management fee, which is still more significant than the costs charged by passive funds.

Passive Trading vs. Active Trading- Management:

Human portfolio managers supervise active funds. Some focus on choosing particular stocks that they believe will beat the market. Others concentrate their efforts on markets or industries they believe will perform well. (Most leaders do both functions.)

Many active-fund financial advisors are aided by groups of human experts who do thorough research to identify future investment possibilities.

On the other hand, passive funds do not have human managers making purchasing and selling choices. Passive funds often have relatively low costs since there are no supervisors to compensate.

However, costs for active and passive funds have decreased over time, although active funds continue to be more expensive.

Active vs. Passive Funds- Capability to Diverse:

Diversification is among the essential strategies for investors to maximize profit while reducing their risks. Active investors can select their investments from several genres and assets and from a variety of sectors or businesses. This provides customers with the benefit of healthy diversity in their portfolio, which leads to greater returns. 

Passive investment does not provide the benefit of diversity. The assets in the underlying index cannot be chosen or changed by investors. As a result, diversity in passive investing is restricted to the various assets included in an index or the few industries included in the index.

Active vs. Passive Funds- Control over the Investment Portfolio:

Active investing strategies allow investors to pick and choose which investments to include in their portfolios. Investors can choose assets based on extensive study and analysis and fit their investment strategy, cost, volatility, and return expectations.

Passive investment does not provide investors with this opportunity. Here, the portfolio is built around the security, index, or asset it is tracking. The assets in the portfolio are typically weighted in a similar proportion as the index. As a result, there is no opportunity for portfolio modification that is available in actively managed funds.

Eye-to-eye Comparison between Active Vs. Passive Funds

ParametersActive FundsPassive Funds
Investment MotivesConcentrate on relative returns to outperform the market.Emphasize relative returns to mirror market (measured index) success.
Payment FrequencyActive investing is often higher with a great number of purchasing and trading.Changing holdings due to a shift in index structure is comparatively modest.
StrategyFund manager often modifies the funds' composition to their understanding.Fund manager simply replicates the benchmark indexes movement.
Risk-returnMay get higher returns but is highly risky.Though you get lower returns, it’s safe to invest here.
Long term vs. short termTake the benefit of short-term cost fluctuations.Ignores short-term swings in favor of a long-term investing strategy.


In this Active vs. Passive Investing post, we've shown that active investing tends to create more significant returns than the market. Still, it comes with more fees, levies, the effort for study, and increased risk, owing to unpredictability in reaching investment goals.

On the other hand, passive investing can yield the equity risk premium constantly with minimal exposure and less study associated with aligning the market portfolio. However, this method disregards market distortions and thus the prospect of earning greater yields and outshining the benchmark.

Active vs. Passive Investing FAQs

Are mutual funds passive or active?

Mutual funds are actively managed. Although some mutual funds are handled passively, most investors seek these instruments for the extra value they may provide under an actively managed approach. Active management is the primary differential for such investors. This is because they count on a seasoned professional to design an ideal portfolio instead of just replicating an index.

Is passive investing better than active?

Even though both investing techniques are advantageous, passive investments have attracted larger investment volumes than active investments. Traditionally, passive investments have outperformed active investments. Moreover, it has been seen that passive investment often provides greater returns with lesser prices over the long run.

Nakla Team
Nakla Team

Nakla team aims to provide their customers with all the latest happenings in the financial market and keep them updated with trending terminologies. We have the resources that help you upgrade your investment game and make your investment journey seamless.