UK equity funds beat benchmarks as other active strategies fail

Dividends growthOver 75% of active strategies have underperformed their benchmarks over the 12 months to June 2014, but UK equities continue to post strong returns.

While most active strategies disappointed, sterling-denominated funds investing in UK and European equities delivered the best performance, with over 57% outperforming their index over the 12 months.

In contrast, over 84% of euro-denominated funds investing in eurozone equities failed to meet the benchmark, according to the latest mid-year S&P Indices Versus Active Funds (SPIVA) Scorecard.

Other euro-denominated funds also struggled, with around three quarters of funds investing in European equities, and the same amount in international equities, also falling short of their indices over the 12-month period.

The majority of sterling-denominated funds investing outside Europe also underperformed, including two-thirds of global funds and nearly half of US equity funds.

Emerging market equities experienced a turbulent year, as economies of major developing countries slowed. Despite the period of high volatility, which has been seen as an opportunity for active managers to excel, almost three quarters of euro-denominated emerging market funds again lagged behind their benchmark.

These findings add fuel to the ongoing active versus passive debate, where the value of expensive active management strategies has been called into question.

Previous research released in July by S&P Dow Jones, presented a similarly negative view, with two-thirds of actively managed funds investing in Eurozone equities failing to beat the S&P Eurozone broad market index over five years.

A further 10-year long study of UK equity funds, released in June this year by the Pensions Institute at Cass Business School, found that only 1% of fund managers are able to generate superior performance in excess of operating and trading costs.

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