Passive Vs. Active ETF Investing: Choosing Your Strategy


Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have become increasingly popular for investors looking to diversify their portfolios and gain exposure to different sectors, industries, or regions of the market. In Singapore, ETF investing has been gaining traction due to its low fees, liquidity, and ease of trading. However, when it comes to investing in ETFs, there are two main strategies that investors can choose from: passive and active investing.

Passive ETF investing is a strategy that focuses on tracking an index or market benchmark, whereas active ETF investing involves a more hands-on approach. This article will discuss the differences between passive and active ETF investing in Singapore so investors can better understand which strategy may be more suitable for their investment goals.


Passive ETF investing is primarily focused on mirroring the performance of an underlying index or benchmark. As such, the objective of passive investing is to achieve similar returns to the chosen market index rather than outperform it. This strategy is achieved by holding a portfolio of securities that replicate the composition of the targeted index in terms of asset allocation and sector weightings.

On the other hand, active ETF investing aims to outperform the market index. This strategy involves actively managing a portfolio by buying and selling securities based on market trends, economic conditions, and other factors. Active managers often employ techniques such as fundamental analysis or technical analysis to select stocks that they believe will outperform the market.

While passive ETFs aim to provide consistent returns over time, active ETFs focus more on achieving higher returns in the short term. This difference in objectives is a crucial factor for investors to consider when choosing between passive and active ETF investing.


Passive ETFs are generally known for their low fees, making them an attractive option for cost-conscious investors. Since these funds track an index, they require less active management and thus have lower operating expenses. This results in lower expense ratios, which is the annual fee for managing the ETF.

In comparison, active ETFs tend to have higher fees due to their more hands-on approach. Active managers are actively researching and selecting securities to include in the fund, which can result in higher transaction costs. These funds may also charge performance fees if they outperform their benchmark.

Investors should carefully consider the cost of both strategies when deciding between passive and active ETF investing. While passive ETFs have lower fees, investors must pay a premium for active management to achieve higher returns.


Passive ETFs are generally considered to have lower risk compared to active ETFs. As these funds track an index, they offer diversification that can help mitigate single-stock risk. The passive approach also reduces the potential for human error or bias in stock selection.

On the other hand, active ETFs carry higher risks due to their more hands-on approach. Active managers may take on higher-risk investments to outperform the market, which can result in higher volatility. The success of active ETFs depends heavily on the skill and expertise of the fund manager.

Investors should carefully consider their risk tolerance when choosing between passive and active ETF investing. While passive ETFs offer a more conservative approach, active ETFs may provide potentially higher returns but with more significant risks.

Qualified investment specialists at Saxo Bank Group can help investors develop a risk management plan to mitigate any risks, as they have a strong understanding of the markets and years of experience navigating them.


Passive ETFs are designed to replicate the performance of an underlying index, which means they typically provide consistent returns over time. These funds aim to match the market rather than outperform it, making them a suitable option for long-term investors seeking stable returns.

Active ETFs, on the other hand, have a more variable performance. Due to their dynamic management approach, these funds can outperform or underperform the market, depending on the decisions made by the fund manager. While this may provide the potential for higher returns, it also carries a higher level of risk.

Investors should consider their investment goals and time horizon when choosing between passive and active ETF investing. While passive ETFs offer a steadier performance, active ETFs may provide the opportunity for higher returns but with more significant fluctuations in performance.


Passive ETFs are typically highly liquid, meaning they can be bought and sold quickly on the stock exchange. These funds hold a portfolio of securities traded on the exchange, making it easier for investors to enter and exit their positions.

In comparison, active ETFs may have lower liquidity due to their more hands-on management approach. These funds may hold a portfolio of less liquid assets or take on higher-risk investments, making it more challenging for investors to sell their holdings quickly.

Investors should consider the liquidity of both passive and active ETFs when making their investment decisions. Passive ETFs offer more convenient access to their investments, while active ETFs may require a more extended holding period.

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