What Is An Active Investor

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 9 minute read

Investment is a powerful tool for long-term wealth creation, but with so many options available, getting started may be daunting.

Most investment approaches may be classified as either “active” or “passive.” Both long-term and short-term investors strive to increase the value of their portfolios so that the proceeds may be used to cover living expenses or to finance more investments.

In general, active investors keep close tabs on their holdings and trade in and out of the market on a regular basis (daily or weekly). With the expectation that constant investing over the long run would help them achieve their goals, passive investors prefer a more “set it and forget it” approach.

Each investing approach has its advantages and disadvantages, but both are viable options. You can maximize your resources by learning the ins and outs of the various approaches and deciding which is best for you.

Active Investing

By taking an active part in managing your finances, often known as “active investing,” you may move your money around into and out of various assets based on your analysis, intuition, or external factors. The term “active investing” can refer to a wide range of activities, from selecting specific stocks and establishing buy/sell goals to “day trading” options.

Active investors are always on the lookout for assets that can yield a quick return on their investment. Investors frequently aim to outperform the market by generating a better rate of return than the market normally offers.

The concept of active investing appeals to some, but they aren’t always willing to put in the effort required to implement it. These shareholders may collaborate with money managers who employ a proactive strategy for investing on their behalf.

Why do people experiment with active investing?

Active investing is something that many individuals try out for various reasons. One reason is that they desire more control over their own financial situation. Many people have trouble putting their faith in a financial advisor, while others are uninterested in the buy-and-hold approach.

Some investors seek out active strategies because they wish to take an active role in managing their portfolio in the hopes of maximizing their return on investment. Active investors keep tabs on the stock market and the news all day, every day, and frequently make trades.

When the market is vulnerable to a certain event, the prudent investor seeks for a safe haven. They move money into shares of a firm if they have a hunch its stock price is about to skyrocket. When executed properly, active investing may help individuals either protect their wealth or significantly increase their holdings.

Compared to passive strategies like purchasing and holding, active investing presents more of a challenge. For some, investing is more fun when they have to work at it to outperform the market.

What do active investors put their money into?

In order to put their trading plan into action, active investors utilize a wide range of assets.

  • Many active investors buy and sell stocks of certain firms. This allows them to target firms they believe will perform above average in the foreseeable future.
  • Bonds. Some active investors buy and sell government and corporate bonds. Bond prices tend to rise as market interest rates fall, allowing active investors an opportunity to profit from rate market fluctuations. Active investors may also increase their bond holdings if they anticipate a bear market in which stock values decline.
  • Options. Options enable active traders to wager on the price movement of a stock. Options traders purchase and sell the right to buy or sell shares at a certain price until a predetermined future date. Options enable investors to leverage their investments, giving them the opportunity to earn enormous sums but also to lose so much that they end up in the red. This makes them appropriate only for experienced, risk-tolerant investors.
  • Exchange-Traded Funds. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are similar to mutual funds in that they allow investors to purchase and sell shares in various companies through a single fund. ETF shares may be bought and sold throughout the day, making them more ideal for active traders than mutual funds. Numerous ETFs follow market indexes or industries, allowing investors to wager on specific market segments.
  • Some employ leverage so that their prices experience twice or triple the change in an index’s value, enabling traders to place all-in wagers. ETFs, like mutual funds, incur management fees that can erode the returns of active traders.
  • Commodities. Some active investors elect to trade in commodities such as oil, corn, natural gas, and wheat. Commodities enable active investors to bet on future price movements and can function as a hedge against inflation.

Pros and Cons of Active Investing

There are pros and cons to active investing that you should consider.


  1. Larger Pending Payoff. The primary objective of active investors is to achieve positive returns above the market average. This implies benefiting more from favorable market conditions and suffering less losses, if any at all, from unfavorable market conditions. Active investors who are successful can earn substantial returns, while those who are unsuccessful might lose much more than would have been lost by a passive investor.
  2. There’s a lot more leeway now. More options are available with active investing than with passive investment, whether you handle your money yourself or hire a professional money manager. Depending on the state of the economy or the performance of various investment options, capital can be moved in and out of various economic sectors and investment categories. Maintaining a steady investing strategy is a primary goal for passive investors.
  3. Increasing the Variety of Investments Available. Most people who invest passively employ a small number of investment vehicles, most often mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Individual stocks, options, and commodities can all find a home in the trading portfolio of a person who is actively engaged in the market.


  1. More danger is possible. When compared to passive investors, those who take active measures tend to take on more risk, which reduces the amount of money they stand to gain. Visualize a situation in which an alert investor makes the decision to sell his holdings just as a bull market is about to begin, or the opposite, that he decides to purchase just before an investment tanked. There is a risk that this investor will lose all of their money or miss out on enormous rewards. Investors who don’t actively participate in the market aren’t exposed to the same danger.
  2. Extra Expenses. There is a cost premium associated with active investment tactics. There is often a percentage-based fee associated with hiring an active investment manager. The more money you put in and take out of the market, the more you’ll spend in brokerage fees, even if you manage your portfolio yourself.
  3. Extra Effort Required. More effort is required for active investment compared to passive investing. To succeed as an investor, you need to devote time and energy to learning about the economy, businesses, and markets. Spending time on this means less time for fun, family, developing yourself, increasing your income at work, or anything else you might like doing. Moreover, there is no assurance that your efforts will succeed.

Investing that is passive

The majority of passive investors don’t even try to outperform the market. As an alternative, they choose a “one-and-done” approach in which they make a single investment and then sit back and watch the returns roll in. Instead of constantly buying and selling, they rebalance their portfolio or adjust their asset allocation.

The goal of most passive investors is to replicate the performance of a market index or the market as a whole. Most passive investors aren’t too concerned with their returns in the short term and are instead focused on the long term.

A passive investor can either manage their own portfolio or engage with a low-cost investment advisor who employs a buy-and-hold approach.

Why do people experiment with passive investing?

There are a number of reasons why passive investment appeals to so many individuals.
Consider the fact that passive investment has several advantages over active investing. Portfolio rebalancing is a kind of maintenance for passive assets, although it is only necessary once every few months.

Asset allocation changes should be made seldom and only after careful deliberation. A further factor is that some investors like the idea of passive over aggressive investment. Market timing is extremely challenging, and most investors would do better by adopting a passive investment strategy.

What Do Passive Investors Put Their Money Into?

Following are some of the most common investments made by passive investors.

  • Common Investment Pools. By purchasing shares in a single mutual fund, investors have exposure to a diversified portfolio of equities and bonds. Index funds, which follow a market index such as the S&P 500 or the stock market as a whole, are popular among passive investors. In general, index funds are quite cheap, and they are offered by the vast majority of brokerages and pension plans.
  • ETFs. Unlike mutual funds, in which investors must wait until the end of the day for the fund management to complete buy and sell operations, ETFs may be traded on the market during trading hours. So, they may be quickly converted into cash if needed, unlike mutual funds. When compared to similar mutual funds, the cost ratios of some exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are more favorable.
  • Stocks. However, there are many who prefer to invest passively in specific firms over the long term. As an illustration, a passive investor may make a long-term investment in blue-chip equities.
  • Bonds. Bonds and bond funds are both available to passive investors. Bonds issued by firms or municipalities are also acceptable, as are bonds issued by governments, both domestic and international.

Pros & Cons of Passive Investing

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to passive investment.


  1. Easier. In order to be successful, active investors must commit time each day or week to researching and executing transactions, as well as keeping abreast of developments in the company and market sectors. The portfolio of a passive investor only has to be monitored a few times a year, as opposed to the weekly monitoring required of an active investor.
  2. Less Danger. When actively trading, investors run the danger of selling their holdings at the wrong time, or of purchasing at the market’s top. In the financial world, passive investors often just purchase and hold. Since long-term market growth is guaranteed, they won’t have to fret over making a purchase or selling at the incorrect moment.
  3. Costing less. Active traders incur transaction costs that are not incurred by passive investors. Index funds, which normally have costs of 0.10% or less, are a better option. The fees paid by passive investors to their investment managers are often lower than those paid by active investors to their managers.


  1. Potential Payoffs are lower because of this. Many people who consider themselves passive investors are more concerned with merely following the market than with trying to outperform it. A smart trader who invests consistently can significantly surpass the market’s profits. Passive investors often earn returns that are around average relative to the performance of the market as a whole.
  2. It does not safeguard your money from temporary declines. Rather than trying to sell their stocks before they decrease in price, passive investors are willing to ride out market fluctuations. However, economic situations such as a lengthy recession might have a negative impact on the market. Investments may have to be sold at a loss if its owners must liquidate their holdings to meet daily costs. Active traders make it their business to escape that fate by stocking up on cash through sales just when the market turns south. When economic news is bad, prices are falling, and active investors are fleeing, the temptation to “do something” can make it difficult to stick to a passive investment strategy. However, a passive investor’s greatest nightmare is to lose years’ worth of profits in one day due to panic selling after the market has already collapsed.

Bottom Line

Investing may be done in several ways. While some investors are more hands-on, others choose to simply buy and hang on to the same stocks over time. Although most investors would be better off staying on the sidelines, there’s nothing wrong with setting aside a small amount of your portfolio for active trading.

Always see a financial planner if you need help figuring out how to effectively handle your finances. They can assist you in developing and carrying out a strategy to achieve your financial objectives.

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