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Debating Active vs. Passive Management: A More Nuanced View


The debate about active versus passive management is an incredibly polarizing topic, with many well informed experts passionately holding views on opposite extremes. Why is this? We believe much of the public narrative on this topic is one-sided or incomplete. Depending on their perspectives (or financial incentives), people often focus on only one side of the debate and ignore the other. Some people have grown so dogmatic that they fail to listen to valid points from the other side. With all the varying research and statements made by professionals, what should investors believe?

The statements people make are often half-truths, in that they are valid perspectives, but not the complete story. They can mislead people at the same time as inform them. Both sides of this debate tell such half-truths.

We seek to bring order to this debate by laying out the research on both sides, and describing how we develop recommendations for our clients. We do not see a one-size-fits-all solution. Some investors are well positioned to be successful with certain types of active management, while others are likely to perform best with passive. Hopefully, this paper will help investors understand what is most appropriate for their portfolios.

To learn more about active vs. passive management, download the full whitepaper above. 

The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal or investment advice; please consult your investment professional for any such advice. This information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not necessarily complete and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Any opinions expressed are subject to change without notice. 

Investment advice and consulting services provided by Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, Inc., an Aon Company.


This document has been produced by the Global Investment Management Team, a division of Aon plc, and is appropriate solely for institutional investors. Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law on any particular aspect or in any specific case. It should not be taken as financial advice, and action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. Consultants will be pleased to answer questions on its contents but cannot give individual financial advice. Individuals are recommended to seek independent financial advice in respect of their own personal circumstances. The information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and does not purport to give information as of any other date. The delivery at any time shall not, under any circumstances, create any implication that there has been a change in the information set forth herein since the date hereof or any obligation to update or provide amendments hereto. The information contained herein is derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by

Aon Hewitt to be reliable and are not necessarily all inclusive. Aon Hewitt does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information and cannot be held accountable for inaccurate data provided by third parties. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader.

This document does not constitute an offer of securities or solicitation of any kind and may not be treated as such, i) in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation is against the law; ii) to anyone to whom it is unlawful to make such an offer or solicitation; or iii) if the person making the offer or solicitation is not qualified to do so. If you are unsure as to whether the investment products and services described within this document are suitable for you, we strongly recommend that you seek professional advice from a financial adviser registered in the jurisdiction in which you reside. We have not considered the suitability and/or appropriateness of any investment you may wish to make with us. It is your responsibility to be aware of and to observe all applicable laws and regulations of any relevant jurisdiction, including the one in which you reside.

Aon Hewitt Limited is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England & Wales No. 4396810. When distributed in the U.S., Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, Inc. (“AHIC”) is a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). AHIC is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Aon plc. In Canada, Aon Hewitt Inc. and Aon Hewitt Investment Management Inc. (“AHIM”) are indirect subsidiaries of Aon plc, a public company trading on the NYSE. Investment advice to Canadian investors is provided through AHIM, a portfolio manager, investment fund manager, and exempt market dealer registered under applicable Canadian securities laws. Regional distribution and contact information is provided below. 

Contact your local Aon representative for additional contact and/or registration information relevant to your local country if not included above.

About Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, Inc.

Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, Inc. (AHIC) is the U.S. investment consulting practice of Aon, with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. AHIC is a Registered Investment Advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. AHIC is also registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a commodity pool operator and commodity trading advisor, and is a member of the National Futures Association (NFA).

About Aon

Aon plc (NYSE:AON) is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance. For more information, please visit aon.com.

© 2018 Aon plc

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Pathways: A Newsletter for Retirement Plans [Vol. 5 2019]
Pathways: A Newsletter for Retirement Plans [Vol. 5 2019]