Low fees and solid performance are not guarantors of future results, according to a newly published Lipper study, The Wall Street Journal reports. The odds of picking winning equity funds are slim, according to the Lipper report, which found that more than 70% of all domestic actively managed domestic stock portfolios during the past decade lagged performance benchmarks set by the Standard & Poors 500 Index.
The Lipper study, which compared thousands of funds grouped into categories based on fees and overall performance, found that investments with lofty annual expenses often outperformed cheaper alternatives. The study reached its conclusions by comparing three-year category average track records dating back to 1989.
In addition, total returns in top-performing fund categories fell between one three-year period and the next. Fewer than one-quarter of the top funds in each category held the same top ranking during the previous three-year period. John Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, criticized the study by saying that three years is not enough time to establish an industry trend. The news flies in the face of conventional wisdom that correlates lower fees with higher returns. The findings also call into question efforts by securities regulators to lower mutual fund expense.