Contributor, Benzinga
March 20, 2023

Active ETFs are a type of exchange-traded fund (ETF) that differs from traditional index ETFs in that they are actively managed by a portfolio manager or team of managers. These managers make investment decisions based on their analysis of market trends and individual company performance. Unlike index ETFs, which track a benchmark index, active ETFs seek to outperform the market by making active investment decisions.

Active ETFs are similar to mutual funds in terms of their management style, but they offer the advantages of ETFs such as lower fees, greater transparency and intraday trading. Like traditional ETFs, active ETFs can be bought and sold on an exchange throughout the trading day, giving investors the ability to respond quickly to market changes.

The Pros and Cons of Active ETFs


  1. Active management: Active ETFs offer the potential for the outperformance of the market through the active management of a portfolio by experienced managers who can adjust the fund's holdings based on market conditions and trends.
  2. Diversification: Active ETFs can offer a level of diversification that is difficult to achieve with individual stock picking. By investing in a basket of stocks or other assets, investors can reduce their exposure to individual company risk.
  3. Transparency: Active ETFs offer greater transparency than mutual funds, with daily disclosures of their holdings, fees and performance. This benefit allows investors to make more informed investment decisions.
  4. Liquidity: Active ETFs trade on an exchange throughout the day, making them more liquid than traditional mutual funds. This factor allows investors to quickly buy or sell shares in response to market changes.


  1. Higher fees: Active ETFs tend to have higher fees than traditional index ETFs due to the cost of active management.
  2. Underperformance: While active management can lead to outperformance, it can also lead to underperformance. It is difficult for portfolio managers to consistently beat the market, and active ETFs may underperform index ETFs in certain market conditions.
  3. Lack of tax efficiency: Active ETFs can be less tax efficient than index ETFs because of their higher turnover rates. This can result in higher capital gains taxes for investors.
  4. Limited history: Active ETFs are a relatively new investment product with limited historical data on their performance, which can make it difficult for investors to make informed decisions about their suitability for their investment goals.

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When to Invest in Active ETFs

Investors may consider investing in active ETFs if they are looking for a more hands-on approach to their investment portfolio and are willing to pay higher fees for the potential of outperformance. Active ETFs may be particularly attractive for investors who want exposure to a specific sector or asset class that is not well-represented in index ETFs.

It is important for investors to thoroughly research any active ETF they are considering investing in, including the performance history of the fund and the experience of the portfolio management team. Investors should also consider their own risk tolerance and investment goals when deciding whether to invest in active ETFs.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do active ETFs differ from mutual funds?


Active ETFs are similar to mutual funds in terms of their management style, but they offer the advantages of ETFs such as lower fees, greater transparency and intraday trading.