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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Passive investing is an area where being overly purist can be self-defeating.

Why it matters: While there's abundant evidence that a hands-0ff approach will nearly always outperform a hands-on approach over the long term, no one really feels safe or in control when their hands are entirely off the wheel.

The big picture: Passive investing can be harder than it looks, especially when you need to reinvest dividends in a way that dynamically rebalances the portfolio. That's why vehicles like target-date funds and robo-advisors were invented.

  • The catch: Passive investment strategies can sometimes sit uncomfortably with a commitment to sustainability or other ESG screens. And selling existing assets in order to invest them passively can trigger capital gains taxes.

Driving the news: One robo-adviser, Wealthfront, is starting to allow its customers to make their own investing decisions. They can buy or transfer over ETFs and will even be able to add crypto to their portfolios.

  • Wealthfront knows that its customers don't have all of their assets on its platform, so this is a way of increasing assets under management — and including them in the Wealthfront robot's risk and asset-allocation calculations — without forcing everything to be invested according to its model portfolios.
  • Wealthfront CEO Andy Rachleff doesn't expect a lot of customers to rush to take advantage of the new options. Rather, he tells Axios, "it's just knowing that you can."

The bottom line: Active investing is having a moment. By allowing investors to experiment a bit and maybe stray a little from passive-investing orthodoxy, Wealthfront ultimately hopes to keep more of them in the broader fold.

Go deeper

CDC says fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Erin Clark-Pool/Getty Images

The CDC announced in new guidance Thursday that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, regardless of crowd size.

What they're saying: "If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will say at a White House press briefing.

Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid hackers nearly $5 million in ransom

Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Colonial Pipeline paid hackers linked to the DarkSide cybercrime group nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency after last week's ransomware attack, Bloomberg first reported and the New York Times confirmed.

Why it matters: The breach of the largest refined fuels pipeline in the U.S. triggered new concerns about the vulnerability of the country's increasingly digitized energy systems.

Biden warns gas stations not to price gouge: "That's not who we are"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday warned gas companies to not price gouge amid major shortages following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

The big picture: Biden added that the FBI does not believe the Russian government is behind the attack, but they do know that those responsible "are living in Russia."