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Why Passive Investments are typically better than Complex Investments Regardless of Income

Updated: Apr 5

Investing and understanding what is appropriate for you is a crucial aspect of financial planning and wealth growth. However, the world of investments can be overwhelming, especially with the multitude of complex investment options available.  On top of this, it can be challenging to accurately assess comparisons to active funds to their relative index.

Typically passive investments tend to be the better long term solution because of the reduced fees.  Active funds can outperform in short term bursts however, and it can be tempting to overlook short term performance due to the recency bias, and chase return, but this is ill advised.  This article aims to cover active vs passive and provide transparency to the individual investor.

Simplicity and Transparency

One of the standout advantages of passive investments is their simplicity and transparency. Unlike complex investment strategies that implement multiple strategies, passive investments offer a straightforward approach. With passive investments, you can invest in index funds that track the entire US stock market, international stock market,  the extended market, or other asset class such as real estate that aim to replicate a specific market index.  Individuals often use an ETF or mutual fund as their investment vehicle.  This simplicity allows investors to understand where their money is going and how it is being managed.

Active funds can also be in a mutual fund or ETF format or take a separate form such as a limited partnership.  It is important to identify the overall fees and accessibility of each fund as well.

Personally, I once delved into active funds that advertised future substantial returns relative to economic conditions but ultimately reminded me that it is impossible to accurately assess future market returns. In addition, the murky transparency made it difficult to assess the risks involved. In contrast, my experience with passive investments has been refreshing. The transparency and simplicity of these investments have given me peace of mind, knowing exactly what I am investing in and how it aligns with my financial goals.

Accessibility and Understanding

Passive funds are also more accessible and easier to understand, making them ideal for novice investors. Complex investments often involve intricate strategies and specialized knowledge, which can be intimidating for beginners. In contrast, passive investments offer a clear and straightforward approach that is easier to grasp.

Consider your friends or family members who have ventured into complex investment schemes. How many of them truly understood the intricacies of their investments?  Oftentimes, more complex or illiquid investments are sold to those with a higher net worth aiming to fix a fabricated issue or need to have unique investments, income, or tax advantages. 

 Passive investments, on the other hand, provide a stepping stone for investors to enter the market without feeling overwhelmed. The ease of understanding empowers individuals to make informed decisions and take control of their financial future.  They are also appropriate for those with a higher net worth assuming they align with their specific goals for the investment.

Consistent Long-Term Returns

Passive investments have a track record of delivering consistent long-term returns. While complex investment strategies often promise higher returns, they come with a higher level of risk and uncertainty. Aiming for quick gains can lead to unexpected losses and significant volatility in your portfolio.  

Active funds or complex investments may aim to mitigate loss in a current or future downturn, and sometimes they succeed in this endeavor.  This is often sold alongside the investor tendency to take more notice in downturns and want to try and time the market or mitigate their loss.  Tuning this out can keep you on track for your long term goals and help prevent buyers remorse in resurgent markets.

Lower Costs

Another compelling reason to embrace passive investments is their lower costs compared to complex investment options. Active management often comes with higher fees and expenses, eating into your potential returns. Passive investments, such as index funds or ETFs, typically have lower expense ratios, allowing you to keep more of your hard-earned money working for you.  I typically try to aim for funds and ETFs with an expense ratio lower than 0.3%.

By opting for passive investments, you can achieve a balance between cost-effectiveness and potential returns as a fund’s expense ratio can eat into the overall performance of the fund.   These lower costs can make a significant difference in the long run, especially when it comes to compounding your wealth.

Regardless of your income level, passive investments offer simplicity, transparency, accessibility, consistent long-term returns, and lower costs. Investing should not be reserved for the elite; it should be accessible to everyone. By embracing passive investments, you can take control of your financial future and work towards achieving your financial goals.

Consider passive index funds, mutual funds, or ETFs as viable options for your investment portfolio. Remember, investing is a journey, and passive investments provide a solid foundation for both beginners and experienced investors alike. Let's shift our focus from complex investments to the simplicity and effectiveness of passive investments. Your financial future will thank you.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this opinion piece is for educational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Please consult with a professional financial advisor before making any investment decisions.


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