The Benefits of Indexing: Strategies for the Inward Investor

The Benefits of Indexing: Strategies for the Inward Investor

Index investing offers a compelling combination of cost efficiency, diversification, simplicity, performance consistency, tax efficiency, and accessibility.
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Index investing has emerged as a prominent strategy in the financial world, appealing to a wide range of investors, from individuals managing their retirement savings to institutional investors handling billions in assets. This approach, centered around tracking a market index's performance, offers many advantages, including cost efficiency, diversification, tax efficiency, and simplicity, making it an attractive option for long-term investment goals.  For investors with an "inward" Perspective score - those more financially goal-oriented - these qualities may make index investments ideal building blocks for their portfolios. Investor mindsets with an inward Perspective score are Private Investigators, Reflective Reflectors, and Passive Protectors.‍

One of the primary benefits of index investing is its cost efficiency. Index strategies are typically cheaper compared to actively managed funds. This is because indexing involves replicating the index, a process that requires less research and active decision-making from fund managers, thereby reducing management fees (Bogle, 2014). Over time, these lower costs can result in significant savings for investors and a potentially higher net return on investment.  ‍

Costs and performance are often two sides of the same coin. Over the long term, index funds have often outperformed a significant portion of actively managed funds. This phenomenon can be attributed to the cumulative effect of lower costs and the difficulty active managers face in consistently outguessing the market. Studies have shown that while some active managers may outperform the market in the short term, maintaining this performance over the long haul is exceedingly rare (Sharpe, 1991). Private Investigators may take an interest in the empirical evidence showing that 50%-60% of active funds underperform their respective asset class benchmarks the first year, and this grows to around 90% for funds surviving 15 years1. The magnitude of underperformance is similar to expense ratio differences between active and passive strategies. 

Figure 1 - percentage of Large, Mid, and Small cap funds that underperformed the S&P 500, 400, and 600 indices, respectively.

Diversification is another key advantage of index investing. By design, most index strategies hold a broad range of securities, mirroring the composition of the underlying index. This exposure to a wide array of assets helps spread risk, as the overall portfolio's breadth mitigates the impact of poor performance by any single security. This diversification can be particularly beneficial in volatile markets, offering a buffer against the impact of significant fluctuations in individual stock or sector performances.  Additionally, research shows that asset class outperformance over time is typically driven by a handful of stocks.  Further, since identifying which stocks will outperform is unlikely, it is best to hold the broad basket.‍

The simplicity of index investing is also a significant draw. Private Investigators, Reflective Reflectors, and Passive Protectors do not need to engage in the complex and time-consuming stock picking or market timing process. Instead, they can select index strategies that align with their investment goals, whether tracking a broad market index like the S&P 500 or a specific sector or region. This straightforward approach enables investors to easily understand where their money is invested and reduces the potential for making costly investment mistakes.‍

Index funds are generally more tax-efficient than actively managed funds, as they tend to have lower portfolio turnover, which minimizes capital gains distributions. This efficiency can lead to lower tax bills and enhance net returns for investors in taxable accounts. This benefit complements the long-term investment horizon of many index fund investors, providing a more favorable tax treatment compared to the frequent buying and selling characteristic of active management.  Low turnover tax-efficient strategies are directly related to the amount of harvestable losses over time in SMA index strategies. ‍

Index investing has democratized access to the financial markets. With low minimum investment requirements and the availability of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track indexes, individuals can invest in a diversified portfolio with relatively small amounts of capital. This accessibility has opened the doors to investing for a broader segment of the population, contributing to greater financial participation and literacy.‍

Table 1 - Seeds Index SMA Series strategies

Index investing offers a compelling combination of cost efficiency, diversification, simplicity, performance consistency, tax efficiency, and accessibility. These benefits make it suitable for a wide range of investors and align well with prudent, long-term investing principles.  ‍

Advisors using the Seeds platform now have access to 4 new Index SMA strategies to use as building blocks for a globally diversified portfolio. Each one of the strategies shown in Table 1 tracks industry-standard benchmarks to deliver market-like performance while allowing for tax harvesting through single stock holdings.


1 S&P Spiva scorecard,


  • Bogle, J. C. (2014). The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Sharpe, W. F. (1991). The Arithmetic of Active Management. The Financial Analysts' Journal.

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