This week’s Barron’s had the same argument for active portfolio management in 2014 in two different articles; the weekly interview which was with Robert Ewing from Oppenheimer and ETF Focus column.
The basic idea was that correlations are in the process of moving from very high to not so high. Ewing noted that this started in the middle of 2013. If correlations are receding then bottom up performance from companies like earnings growth, revenue growth and balance sheet management can serve to differentiate returns. Active management processes then have the opportunity to find and include the better performers in the portfolios they manage.
Compare this to a few years ago when a big complaint was the extent to which “correlations all went to 1.00” during the financial crisis creating less of a favorable backdrop for active management.
As a matter of simple logic there will be market conditions that will favor active management like 2014 based on Barron’s contention and years like 2013 that favor passive management; when the S&P 500 is up 30% in a year the important thing is having equity exposure active or otherwise.
Quite obviously no one can know whether this will be the year for any particular strategy –throw in momentum, trend following, dividend growth, GARP not just active versus passive.
This is where investment discipline come into play as you define and then hone your investment strategy.
While you can go to Bogleheads to read why the most passive of index strategies is the only possible way to matter who you are or what your suitability or you can go to Seeking Alpha to read why only a fool doesn’t have a dividend growth portfolio the reality is that most portfolios blend together attributes from various styles.