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Active vs Passive Investment Management: Who Wins?

By Adhesion Wealth, An AssetMark Company


The debate has been raging in the investment community for decades: active or passive investment? Publications from Bloomberg to Forbes have weighed in, picking their sides, and cautioning investors that there is no clear winner, and that each choice comes with its own set of advantages and risks.

Let’s break down the differences between the two methodologies and discover how Direct Indexing combines a passive investment strategy with the potential tax benefits of active management.

Active vs Passive Management

Active management is broadly defined as any investment strategy that involves buying and selling decisions in a portfolio in an attempt to outperform the market. Out performance of a market is called “alpha”. Passive management, on the other hand, is a term broadly associated with an investor's attempt to mirror the return of the market. Achieving market return in this context is called “beta”.

Direct Indexing combines a passive investment style with active characteristics such as portfolio customization and active tax management.

The Best of Both Worlds

Direct Indexing enables investors to buy individual stocks in an index rather than buying a fund in its entirety. This approach allows investors to enjoy the benefits of passive investing, specifically low costs and market-like returns, with the added benefit of customization and year-round tax loss harvesting to help maximize after-tax returns. For larger HNW clients with existing stock positions, Direct Indexing also provides the ability to absorb holdings in order to minimize capital gains.

Adhesion Wealth is a leading provider of index-based, tax-advantaged investment solutions. Our Unified Managed Account capabilities are the foundation of our Direct Indexing services, allowing a Direct Index to be placed at the core of an account, with satellite holdings wrapped around it. The Adhesion Investable Index Series shows how our Direct Index strategies can provide low-cost, tax-aware portfolios that focus on tax-loss harvesting while demonstrating index-like tracking characteristics.


The debate between active and passive investment strategies will continue for years to come, but hybrid options are attractive to both advisors and investors. Forward-thinking RIAs have begun to use Direct Indexing to provide clients a personalized option designed to fit their preferences, maximize tax alpha, and provide index-like returns.

C24-20920 | EXP 2/28/2026

By Adhesion Wealth, An AssetMark Company

For financial professional use only.

Important Information

This is for informational purposes only, is not a solicitation, and should not be considered investment, legal or tax advice. The information has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed and is subject to change.

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. UMAs are not suitable for all investors and should be evaluated for suitability by financial professionals prior to investing.

For more complete information about the various investment solutions available, including the investment objectives, risks, and fees, please refer to the Disclosure Brochure. Please read it carefully before investing. For a copy, please contact Adhesion Wealth Advisor Solutions (“Adhesion Wealth”).

Adhesion Wealth is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Adhesion Wealth and third-party providers are separate and unaffiliated companies. Each party is responsible for their own content and services.

Adhesion Wealth is an affiliate of AssetMark, Inc., an investment adviser registered with the SEC.

©2024 Adhesion Wealth Advisor Solutions. All rights reserved. © 2024 Adhesion Wealth Advisor Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.

C24-20942 | 02/2024 | EXP 2-28-2026