The SPIVA® Scorecard: More Than the Sum of Its Parts

The active versus passive debate has been going on for years and has inspired passionate supporters on both sides.  As a way to provide market participants with objective information, S&P Dow Jones Indices started publishing the S&P Indices Versus Active (SPIVA) Scorecard for the U.S. in 2002.  The scorecard measures the performance of actively managed domestic equity funds across various market capitalizations and styles, as well as fixed income funds, relative to their respective benchmarks.

After more than 14 years, SPIVA is now a global publication.  The scorecard is published for eight countries and regions: Australia, Canada, Europe, India, Japan, Latin America, South Africa, and the U.S.  It has presence on every continent.  The popularity of the scorecard is a testament to its ability to allow market participants—both retail and institutional—make informed decisions using the findings.  It is also a sign that investors around the world are starting to understand the benefits of passive investing.

We find that the financial media and the majority of our users focus heavily on results from Report 1 of the SPIVA publications, which calculates the percentage of managers underperforming or outperforming their respective benchmarks.  Undoubtedly, Report 1 embodies the theoretical underpinning that lies at the heart of active versus passive investing: that active management in aggregate tends to underperform passive management, after accounting for fees.

At the same time, the rest of the SPIVA Scorecard contains helpful statistics that should be part of a market participant’s decision-making toolkit.  For example, the asset-weighted versus equal-weighted performance figures seek to establish if fund size plays a role in delivering excess returns over the benchmark.  Are investors better off choosing a firm with larger AUM over a smaller one, all being else equal?  What are the asset classes or countries in which fund size plays a role in establishing winners versus losers?  The SPIVA Scorecard helps answer those questions.

The fact that this scorecard  is published in eight regions—in both developed and emerging markets—also means users can perform cross-country comparisons for the same asset class or investment style.  For example, do Japanese managers investing in large-cap U.S equity have a harder time outperforming the benchmark than Canadian managers investing in the same opportunity set?  Is large-cap U.S. equity a universally tough space for active managers to deliver meaningful excess returns?

The SPIVA Scorecard and its related content are more than the sum of their parts.  The scorecard contains a wealth of information that market participants can slice and dice in many different ways to conduct due diligence, make informed decisions, and keep tabs on the active versus passive debate.

If you would like more information on the scorecard, visit, a new interactive tool for financial professionals and investors that brings SPIVA to life. The site features key data sampled from SPIVA Scorecards for Australia, Canada, Europe, India, Japan, Latin America, South Africa and the U.S., allowing visitors to compare active and passive performance around the globe.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our disclaimers.

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