Browse Analysis of Managed and Structured Products

18.3 Fund Management Styles

A comprehensive guide to understanding different mutual fund management styles with examples and FAQs.

Understanding Fund Management Styles

Fund management styles are crucial in determining the relative and absolute returns of an investment portfolio. The performance of a fund can be understood by analyzing the investment style of its manager. Some managers may outperform or underperform their peers depending on the strategies they employ. Fund management styles can be broadly divided into two categories: passive and active.

Passive Investment Strategy

A passive investment strategy typically involves tracking a market index or a customized benchmark. This form of investment aims to replicate the performance of the selected index rather than exceed it.

  • Characteristics of Passive Investing:
    • Lower management expense ratios (MERs) compared to active investing.
    • Limited buying and selling of securities, which results in lower transaction costs.
    • Examples include index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Active Investment Strategy

An active investment strategy is designed to outperform market benchmarks through various techniques, including individual security selection, sector weighting, and geographical diversification.

  • Characteristics of Active Investing:
    • Higher management expense ratios (MERs) due to active trading and research.
    • Potentially higher returns but also higher risks compared to passive funds.
    • Methods include growth investing, value investing, and sector rotation.
	    title Management Styles Share
	    "Passive Investing" : 45
	    "Active Investing" : 55

Examples of Active Fund Management Styles

  • Growth Investments: Focus on companies expected to grow at an above-average rate. These funds reinvest profits for future growth and tend to perform well during expansionary phases of the market.

  • Value Investments: Focus on undervalued companies, purchasing stocks perceived to be trading for less than their intrinsic values. These investments can provide high returns if the market eventually recognizes the company’s true value.

Combining Strategies for Diversification

As an active investor, you might consider diversifying your portfolio with a mix of growth and value investments. This diversification can help reduce volatility while maintaining the potential for higher returns compared to the overall market.

**Example Diversified Portfolio: **

  • Value Mutual Funds: Target undervalued stock markets.
  • Growth Mutual Funds: Focus on companies with high growth potential.


What is the primary difference between active and passive management?

The key difference lies in their objective and strategy. While passive management aims to replicate the performance of an index, active management seeks to outperform the benchmark through active decision-making.

Are there higher fees associated with active management?

Yes, active management generally incurs higher management expense ratios (MERs) due to extensive research, frequent trades, and the desire to outperform the market.

Can passive funds ever outperform active funds?

Yes, passive funds may outperform active funds, especially over long periods, due to their lower costs and consistent return patterns aligned with market indices.


  • Benchmark: A standard against which the performance of a security, mutual fund, or investment manager can be measured.
  • Management Expense Ratio (MER): The total annual cost of managing a fund, expressed as a percentage of the fund’s average assets.
  • Index Fund: A type of mutual fund designed to replicate the performance of a market index.
  • Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF): A type of security that involves a collection of securities that typically tracks an underlying index.
  • Growth Investing: Investment in companies expected to grow at an above-average rate compared to their industry or the market.
  • Value Investing: Investment in companies that appear to be undervalued by the market.

Key Takeaways

  • Fund management styles significantly affect the returns and risk profile of an investment portfolio.
  • Passive investment strategies aim to replicate market performance and typically charge lower fees.
  • Active investment managers aim to outperform market benchmarks but incur higher costs and risks.
  • Diversification through a mix of growth and value mutual funds can balance the potential for return and risk.

For additional resources or personal guidance, consider consulting a financial advisor or exploring further educational materials related to Canadian Securities Course certification.

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## What are the two broad categories of fund management styles? - [ ] Growth and Value - [ ] Indexing and Benchmarking - [x] Passive and Active - [ ] Equity and Fixed-Income > **Explanation:** Fund management styles fall into either passive or active categories. Passive management involves indexing to a market or a customized benchmark, while active management aims to outperform the market benchmarks. ## Which type of investment strategy involves indexing to a market or a customized benchmark? - [ ] Active - [x] Passive - [ ] Growth - [ ] Value > **Explanation:** A passive investment strategy involves some form of indexing to a market or a customized benchmark, aiming to mirror the performance of a specific index. ## Which type of investment strategy is designed to outperform market benchmarks? - [x] Active - [ ] Passive - [ ] Indexing - [ ] Balanced > **Explanation:** An active investment strategy is designed to outperform the market benchmarks through various techniques such as individual stock selection or overweighting specific industry sectors. ## Which category of management strategy typically reports lower management expense ratios? - [ ] Active - [x] Passive - [ ] Growth - [ ] Value > **Explanation:** Funds that follow a passive strategy generally report lower management expense ratios compared to those that pursue an active strategy due to the reduced requirements for active management and trading. ## Most equity styles of management fall under which category? - [x] Active - [ ] Passive - [ ] Balanced - [ ] Fixed-Income > **Explanation:** Most equity styles of management are active, involving individual company selection, industry sector overweighting, or even country selection for regional funds. ## Which of the following activities is involved in active management of funds? - [ ] Indexing to a market - [x] Individual company selection - [ ] Replicating a benchmark - [ ] Setting a fixed proportion of assets > **Explanation:** Active management involves activities such as individual company selection, where managers attempt to pick stocks they believe will outperform the overall market. ## How might an active investor diversify their portfolio according to the text? - [x] By holding both a value mutual fund and a growth mutual fund - [ ] By allocating equal portions to all available mutual funds - [ ] By investing only in index funds - [ ] By concentrating solely on one sector > **Explanation:** An active investor might diversify their portfolio by using a mix of growth and value investments, thus reducing volatility while aiming for higher returns. ## What is a characteristic of a passive investment strategy? - [ ] Outperforming the market - [ ] Individual stock picking - [ ] Over-weighting industry sectors - [x] Lower management expense ratios > **Explanation:** Passive investment strategies typically report lower management expense ratios because they involve less frequent trading and lower management activity. ## Why might an active strategy involve over-weighting certain industry sectors? - [ ] To replicate index performance - [ ] To reduce volatility - [x] To outperform market benchmarks - [ ] To minimize risk > **Explanation:** Over-weighting certain industry sectors is a technique used in active management to try and outperform market benchmarks by capitalizing on favorable conditions within particular industries. ## Which investment strategy might be more suited to someone focusing on minimizing management costs? - [ ] Active - [x] Passive - [ ] Growth-focused - [ ] Sector-specific > **Explanation:** A passive investment strategy might be more suited for those focusing on minimizing management costs, as it typically reports lower management expense ratios compared to active strategies.

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In this section

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    Discover the differences and implications of Indexing and Closet Indexing in mutual fund management. Learn about their advantages, disadvantages, and suitability for different investment strategies.
Tuesday, July 23, 2024