Active vs. Passive Investing: Which strategy is right for you?

Feb 6, 2024

Investing can be confusing, especially when it comes to choosing the right strategy. Many investors fall into two categories: active and passive. But what do those terms actually mean? Active investing aims to outperform the market and beat the competition by making frequent trades and adjustments. Passive investing, on the other hand, tracks market performance and involves a buy-and-hold strategy for the long term.

In this blog post, we’ll compare the pros and cons of active and passive investing for Canadian self-directed investor to help you determine what the right approach is for you.

What is Active Investing?

Active investing involves research and analysis to find investment opportunities that will outperform the market. This strategy requires a hands-on approach and a willingness to buy and sell stocks frequently. Active investors bet on individual stocks, and their success depends highly on their skills and knowledge.


  • Active investing aims to beat the market, and therefore, presents the opportunity for higher gains than passive investing.
  • Active investors can respond quickly to market changes and buy/sell accordingly to capitalize on opportunities.
  • Investors can feel more in control when using active investing strategies.


  • Active investing can be riskier due to the constantly changing market and increased trading fees.
  • Research and analysis are time-consuming and require a lot of investment knowledge.
  • Active investors need to constantly monitor their investments and adjust their strategy based on market conditions.

Passive Investing

Passive investing is a hands-off approach where investors follow a buy-and-hold strategy for the long term. It involves investing in less risky investments where less ongoing attentiveness is required, such as low-cost index funds or ETFs that track the market’s performance.


  • Passive investing requires less time and effort as investors can buy and hold their investments for the long term.
  • This strategy is generally less risky due to its diversified portfolio of investments.
  • Passive investing often incurs lower fees and costs than active investing, making it more affordable.


  • Passive investing tracks the market performance and does not aim to beat it, which means less potential for gains.
  • Investors are less in control and cannot make quick adjustments to their portfolio.
  • Passive investing does not guarantee higher returns and can be affected by market downturns.

How to determine which strategy is right for you

Choosing between active and passive investing is a personal decision and dependent on various factors like investment knowledge, time commitment, and personal investment goals.

If you’re a beginner investor who prefers a hands-off approach, then passive investing may be the better option. It requires less investment knowledge, less time commitment, and lower fees. However, if you want to actively manage your investments and have the knowledge and time to do so, then active investing may be more suitable for you.

Alternatively, you can also use a hybrid approach where you allocate a portion of your portfolio to passive investing and the rest to active investing. This provides both the stability of passive investing and the potential for higher gains through active investing.

Things to keep in mind

Regardless of which approach you choose, there are some tips to keep in mind when investing:

  • Have a diversified portfolio to minimize risks.
  • Consider investing in low-cost ETFs or index funds for low fees. Check out our list of over 100 free ETFs to get you started.
  • Pay attention to your investment goals and risk appetite and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Monitor your investments regularly to ensure that they align with market conditions and your goals.

Active and passive investing both have their pros and cons, and the best approach depends on your goals and preferences. The stock market offers various investment opportunities, and self-directed investors can benefit from a hybrid approach or sticking to one approach that aligns with your investing goals. Regardless of the approach, it’s essential to research and analyze investment opportunities and monitor your investments regularly to maximize returns and minimize risks.

Learn more about Qtrade. 

The information contained in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee that it is accurate or complete. This material is for informational and educational purposes and it is not intended to provide specific advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, tax or similar matters.

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