Active equity fund managers have, on average, outperformed their benchmarks over the course of H1 2020, with 53% beating the index, according to Lyxor ETF's Active-Passive Navigator.
Small-cap managers took the top spot with 70% outperforming their relative benchmarks, which the report attributed to managers in most regions taking advantage of "clear sector rotations" during the market crash.
Large-cap active fund managers demonstrated a more uneven performance, with European and Japanese managers able to navigate the "surging stock dispersion", but US funds struggled.
Conversely, active fixed income managers lagged significantly, with only 33% of funds able to outperform their relevant benchmarks.
The report pointed to a difficulty in following "record monetary and fiscal stimulus… which anchored yields to their lows and sent bond prices higher".
Sovereign and flexible managers suffered the most, particularly in the US where sovereign fund managers only achieved 21% outperformance. High yield managers stood out in fixed income, where euro high yield funds managed 51% outperformance, due to "overall defensive positioning".
However, over a five-year period, both active equity and fixed income managers have struggled to consistently beat the benchmark, with 36% and 19% respectively able to outperform.
Vincent Denoiseux, head of ETF research and solutions at Lyxor Asset Management, said: "Conventional wisdom is that active managers aim to protect portfolio performance during periods of heightened market volatility.
"A sizeable number of equity managers have indeed been able to successfully navigate one of the most volatile market environments in recent history.
"However, the picture for fixed income has been much less compelling. Over a longer observation window, sustainable alpha generation remains a difficult exercise for most. A robust asset allocation framework is essential to identify potential outperformers over the long term."
Jean-Baptiste Berthon, senior cross-asset strategist at Lyxor Asset Management, added: "After a memorable H1, investors still face an atypical environment, characterised by elevated asset price dispersion, distorted valuations due to stimulus, reduced fiscal and political predictability, and the difficulties of portfolio hedging when yields are grounded.
"Meanwhile, the economic cycle will probably need new drivers, some of which are already taking off. In this context, seeking out diversification and alternative sources of performance will be key.
"An agile combination of active and passive strategies might be the best fit to benefit both from increasing asset differentiation and the promises of secular themes such as clean-energy, millennials and the future of work".