S&P Indices Versus Active (SPIVA®) measures the performance of actively managed funds against their relevant S&P index benchmarks. These regional scorecards compare fund managers’ results across the spectrum of S&P large-cap, mid-cap, small-cap and sector indices.

You can refer to the latest report here – SPIVA US Mid-Year 2013.

It is a pretty long report with a number of pages, but the most important one (you can still read the rest of it) is Report 1: Percentage of U.S. Equity Funds Outperformed by Benchmarks.

Well, it is what it is, pretty easy to understand. There is nothing novel about the index versus active debate, so let’s just let the numbers do the talking, shall we?

Most active managers underperformed the benchmarks when taking into account a time period of 12-months. When considering a longer time period of 3 or 5 years, the numbers favour the benchmarks even more.

For example, when taking into account all US domestic equity funds (5-years), the benchmark performed better than 72.14% of them.

The question is not whether there will be actively managed funds that exceed the benchmark. Of course there will be! Rather, it should be whether are you capable of selecting the actively managed fund(s) that out-performs the benchmark.