Thursday, 30 May 2024 11:37

Pros and Cons of Direct Indexing

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A major trend in wealth management is the rise of customized products and services. Direct indexing is essentially a personalized equity or bond index. 

In terms of benefits, direct indexing gives more control over the timing of realizing capital gains for maximum tax-efficiency. Unlike ETFs or mutual funds, tax losses can be harvested and then used to offset capital gains with direct indexing. According to research, this can boost after-tax returns between 1% and 2%. 

It also allows clients to invest in a way that aligns with their values and/or unique financial situation. This could mean not including stocks from a particular industry, such as tobacco or firearms. It also allows for better risk management, as exposure to certain stocks or sectors can be more effectively managed. 

In terms of drawbacks, a major chunk of direct indexing’s benefits are due to tax savings. However, this is less relevant in a retirement account. Another complication is that short-term losses cannot offset long-term gains. 

Another is the ‘wash sale rule’ which means that investors cannot sell and then repurchase the same security within 30 days. One workaround is to buy securities with similar factor scores to remain consistent with the underlying benchmark. 

Finally, direct indexing has become available to a wider group of investors in recent years due to technology and low-cost trading. However, it’s still most impactful for investors in a higher tax bracket, long-term capital gains, and large, concentrated positions. 


 

Finsum: Direct indexing is increasingly popular, especially as it’s becoming available to more investors. However, the strategy is most applicable for investors in a higher tax bracket, large concentrated positions, and long-term capital gains. 

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