Looking at the longer five-year period, 82.4% of large-cap managers, 87.2% of mid-cap managers and 93.8% of small-cap managers have underperformed their respective benchmarks. The numbers were even worse over the past 15-year period as 93.2% of large-cap managers, 94.4% of mid-cap managers and 94.4% of small-cap managers failed to outperform on a  relative basis.

Related: Volatility Dips in Emerging Markets Stocks, ETFs

As investors consider the various fund options when filling out a well-rounded investment portfolio, it is important to consider factors that can contribute to consistent returns over the long haul. Looking at the actively managed fund market, investors may find high management fees, coupled with manager-specific investment styles, could cause an active fund to underperform widely observed benchmarks, especially if a manager follows a specific style that may perform well over the short-term when certain conditions are met, such as the recent outperformance in the growth style.

Alternatively, investors may find consistent returns with widely observed benchmarks through a cheap beta-index or passive exchange traded fund that simply tries to reflect the performance of an underlying benchmark.

For more information on the ETF market, visit our ETF performance reports category.