Actively managed mutual fund enthusiasts say that a bear market is where active stock picking can beat index funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs).

Jonathan Chevreau for Financial Post takes a look at the Standard & Poor’s Indices Versus Active Funds (SPIVA) scorecard, which seems to indicate that it isn’t so. 

Only 24.3% of actively managed Canadian equity funds outperformed the S&P/Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) composite index in 2007, while only 37% of beat the S&P/TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats Index. Out of five years, only 10% of actively managed Canadian equity funds beat the TSX, while over 3 years only 13.3% did so.

Canadian small-mid caps did capture some fame with actively managed stock picking coming out ahead. In 2007, 51.8% of Canadian small-mid-cap equity funds did manage to beat the S&P/TSX Completion Index.

In the United States, it isn’t much better: actively managed U.S. and international equity funds also performed poorly against the indexes. Over 5 years, only 13.1% of international equity funds beat the index, while 14.9% of U.S. equity mutual funds did so.

Ouch. If you can’t beat the market, why don’t you just buy the market?

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.