Index-Hugging Mutual Funds Shamed by Cheap S&P 500 ETFs

Active mutual fund managers are supposed to earn their keep by outperforming their benchmarks. Therefore, investors in expensive large-cap funds that are simply replicating the index should probably move into cheaper index funds and ETFs tied to the S&P 500.

Morningstar associate editor Adam Zoll recently called out active large-cap funds that have hugged the benchmark S&P 500 during the past 10 years while charging above-category average fees.

“For investors in these funds, all of which charge at least 120 basis points, a serious reappraisal may be in order,” he wrote.

“If a fund you own shows a high degree of correlation with its benchmark (say, 95% or greater), delivers mediocre performance or worse, and charges high fees, you might want to seriously consider switching to a lower-priced actively managed fund that doesn’t hug the benchmark, or to a low-cost index fund,” Zoll concluded. “That way you stand a better chance of getting more by paying less.”

ETFs hitched to the S&P 500 include SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEArca: SPY), Core Shares S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV) and Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: VOO). All three ETFs have expense ratios under 0.1%.

Table source: Morningstar

Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own SPY.

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