A staggering majority of Canadian mutual funds have underperformed the index over the past decade. This data comes at a time when U.S. investors are pulling billions of dollars out of active funds managed by stock pickers, instead favouring low-cost passive index funds. Canadians are not following this trend, adding roughly equal amounts to both active and passive funds in 2016.
In the ten years ending December 2016, 91.11% of Canadian Equity mutual funds trailed their benchmark index according to the SPIVA Canada 2016 Year-End report. For the first time since it has been produced, the report shows ten years of Canadian data. Similar U.S. data for U.S. Equity funds shows that only 82.87% were outperformed by their benchmarks. As of 2015, Canadian mutual funds had the highest fees in the world, while the U.S. had some of the lowest. Fees are known to be one of the best predictors of future performance.
The idea that active managers are not able to consistently beat the market after fees is not new – it has been demonstrated in academic research papers consistently over the last 40 years. Recently, many investors and advisors have arrived at the same view.
The SPIVA Canada report showed ten year data for four fund categories, none of which posted impressive results. Against their benchmarks, 91.11% of Canadian Equity funds underperformed, 75.44% of Canadian Small/Mid Cap Equity funds underperformed, 100% of Canadian Dividend & Income funds underperformed, and 98.28% of U.S. Equity funds underperformed.
Despite the poor performance, Canadian investors continue giving their money to active managers. In 2016, U.S. investors pulled $326 billion from active funds and added $490 billion to passive funds while Canadian investors added $10 billion to active funds and 10.9 billion to passive funds.