The latest academic research suggests that there are certain common characteristics of active equity managers who deliver persistent outperformance.

One of the major trends in equity investing over the past several decades has been a shift by both individual and institutional investors toward passive, or indexed, investments. This trend has been encouraged by two assertions that until recently were widely accepted in academic circles, namely: 1) that active equity managers as a group are unable to consistently outperform market indices after their expenses and fees are deducted; and 2) that an equity manager’s outperformance during a particular period is simply a matter of good fortune. However, a growing body of academic studies conducted over the past several years calls these assertions into question and allows investors to view certain active managers in a new light.

At Brown Advisory, we believe that our approach as active equity managers has the potential to add value for our clients, and this new body of research confirms many aspects of our approach. According to some of these studies, manager outperformance is not a random event. Instead, active equity managers with certain traits are more likely to outperform than others, and these traits generally can be identified ahead of time. Many of these characteristics, such as a high level of divergence from a strategy’s benchmark, are core components of our investment philosophy.

In this paper, we synthesize some of the recent academic literature studying the subject of active equity manager performance and examine how our firm’s approach might be evaluated in light of that research.