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Passive Surpasses Active in 4Q; Brokerage Price Wars Heat Up

A Bloombergreport citing Morningstar data says passive funds, ETFs and smart beta funds held $2.93 trillion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2018 compared with $2.84 trillion in actively managed funds. The report also noted that just 24% of actively managed funds performed better than average passive competitor funds over the last 10 years. Meanwhile, the competition for brokerage customers between Schwab and Fidelity intensified as both firms announced they would make hundreds more ETFs free to trade on their platforms. Vanguard in 2018 eliminated transaction fees on all ETFs. The latest transaction cost cuts are aimed at attracting more investors and thus assets to Schwab and Fidelity, the Wall Street Journalreported. According to the people quoted in the report, trading commissions are a small part of brokerage firms’ revenue, and the loss can be partially offset by charging asset managers for the privilege of being on the brokerage’s platform.