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Lower Fees a Key Driver for Investors Shifting Assets to Passively Managed Investments

In a recent series of reports, the Wall Street Journal chronicled the large shift of assets to passively-managed investments, calling it one of the “largest migrations of money in history.” The reports, citing Morningstar data, noted that over the most recent three years ended August 31, investors added nearly $1.3 trillion to passive mutual funds and passively managed ETFs while active funds lost approximately a quarter trillion dollars.  The reports cited several causes for the shift of assets, including better performance and lower fees of index funds. Industry watchers have noted the fee pressures on mutual funds and the increasing number of boardroom discussions on how to justify the higher fees of actively managed funds even while acknowledging that actively managed funds operate differently and have different characteristics from ETFs and index funds. In an online survey of its readers, the Wall Street Journal found that about 80% of participants said their investment fees are 1% or lower and about three-quarters of participants said they are satisfied they are getting their money’s worth with passively-managed funds.  The survey also found that roughly a third of respondents split their portfolios between passive and active investing.