There is no question that investing in low-cost mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that mirror a benchmark index is a popular strategy to potentially reduce the impact of fees on a portfolio. In fact, many of these passive index strategies have often outperformed more costly actively managed funds. However, while tax efficient, they are unable to fully take advantage of short-term market volatility, according to Neale Ellis and Matthew Michaels of Fidelis Capital. On the other hand, direct indexing has become an attractive alternative to a portfolio of low-cost funds and ETFs, and unlike owning a mutual fund or ETF, an investor directly owns a basket of individual stocks that tracks a designated benchmark index. The strategy also allows greater flexibility during periods of volatility to selectively harvest losses while still closely tracking the benchmark. This is due to the fact that individual equities tend to see much higher volatility than a diversified mutual fund or ETF. This increases the opportunity for tax loss harvesting. Realizing losses in a portfolio can offset capital gains, which creates tax savings. Failing to harvest those losses during periods of short-term volatility could lead to lower results, essentially leaving money on the table.
Finsum:While passive index ETFs are tax efficient, they are unable to fully take advantage of short-term market volatility, which is something that direct indexing can do.