It is an open secret in the fund management industry that most fund managers under-perform over the long-term (around 5 years). Very few people who are in the business of selling investment-linked products will reveal this embarrassing secret to their clients. A simple search on Google will show the facts. You can always verify next time someone persuades you to buy an investment fund. Don't blame the salesmen if they are not forthcoming because they cannot sell if all the embarrassing secrets are out.
Two years ago, I wrote about relying on fund managers for our investments. What I wrote then still stands today. I still think the average IQ of fund managers and the bottom 5% of hedge fund managers to be much higher than mine. However, it is puzzling why intelligent people under-perform as a group. A recent brief exchange with a fund manager explains the reason. Institutional investors form the bulk of the transactions, so they are the average. Add in their management fees, so they naturally under-perform the average. If we cannot rely on fund managers who are far more intelligent with much more time and resources on their hands than us, then how? What if there is an investment vehicle that outperforms most fund managers but charges a much lower fee? These are index funds and ETFs. The ETFs referred to in this article are country indices which are
baskets of blue chips in the respective countries. So, if you want to
invest in Singapore stocks, the right ETF is an ETF that tracks the
Straits Times Index.
Cheaper and better than active fund managers, ETFs are a no-brainer for retail investors. DIY investors who pick their own stocks should review their trading records and honestly self-assess if they outperform the index ETFs. If not, index ETFs have a rightful place in their portfolio. Even for skilful ones who manage to beat the index, they can still consider ETFs if they decide to spend less time on investments and more time on their family or take on more meaningful enterprises like starting their own business.
I have yet to encounter a better writer than Andrew Hallam on ETFs and index funds in Singapore's context. Since my writings cannot hold a candle to his, please read his articles on ETFs and index funds below.
Among ETFs and index funds, there are good and bad ones. It is for this reason that I opened a US brokerage account just to buy ETFs in the US stock exchanges. On the local exchange, the STI ETF will suit most retail investors who want exposure to Singapore stocks. I will discuss more about this in a later article.