Do Socially Conscious ETFs Match Their Active Counterparts?

  •  Ryan Cultice    
  •  Steven Dolvin    


Over the past decade, Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) has grown at a rapid pace and, by some estimates, now represents a quarter of the $48 trillion in assets under professional management in the United States. At the same time, investors have broadly shifted from active to passive investing strategies. While there is significant research in each of these respective areas, we believe that we are the first to examine whether a socially conscious investor can employ a passive approach or if the constrained nature of SRI necessitates active management. As such, we examine the performance of socially conscious ETFs versus a matched sample of actively managed SRI mutual funds. We find the performance, as a whole, to be insignificantly different between the two groups, suggesting that the benefits of active management in this construct effectively offset the cost advantage of passive ETFs.

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