In a word, yes.
The data are clear. Our year-end 2016 SPIVA U.S. Scorecard, e.g., showed that 66% of large-cap mutual funds underperformed the S&P 500 in 2016. Results were even worse for mid- and small-cap managers. Nor were 2016 results unusual—in the 15 years we’ve produced SPIVA, active managers beat the S&P 500 only three times. Moreover, when active success has occurred, it has tended not to persist. Our Persistence Scorecards demonstrate that an investor has a better chance of flipping a coin and getting four heads in a row than he does of identifying a fund manager who will be above average four years in a row.
Successful active management is obviously difficult, and there are two reasons to suspect that it may become even harder.