Brigitte Werfel January 19, 2020 Mutual Fund
In his book "The Trouble With Mutual Funds," Richard Rutner shares that "No one denies that the average mutual fund returns 2% less per year than the stock market returns in general. Yet the mutual fund industry spends billions of shareholder dollars to promote its money managers as experts who can manage investor`s dollars with skill. The vast majority of mutual funds (94% according to a recent five-year survey by Lipper Analytical Services) have underperformed the stock market as a whole."
There are websites that can provide you with daily, monthly and historical mutual fund data. You can also view the performance charts of a particular fund and compare funds against each other. This is an easy way to find the one that is best for you.
Keep It Simple In the final analysis, the most important thing you need to analyze when it comes to picking mutual funds is your needs. Look at your overall investment objectives and then make your investments accordingly. This will typically mean deciding what risk levels your comfortable with and then executing. Given historical results, for most of us that may very well mean buying index funds and dealing with matching the markets. No one has drawn up a superior playbook and 11% is not so bad anyway.
Along with the increased buying and selling activities of an active manager comes a higher expense charge for those trading and management costs. Most actively managed funds have a 50 to 100% higher operating expense ratio than the average index fund. If you are not getting better returns, this can cost plenty over time. Also if your quality manager leaves the fund, you may need to find a better alternative.
Watch for a solid record of returns, rather than funds showing spurts of great years followed by fits of lousy ones. Compare the funds returns to a relevant benchmark index, (large-cap vs. S&P 500, small-cap to the Russell Index, etc.) Solid funds should not only consistently beat the benchmarks, they should also beat their peers.
Past performance can provide a good starting point, but nothing more. In fact, past performance predicts losers better than the winners. A 1998 study from fund-tracking firm Morningstar, demonstrated the top fund performers rarely hold their spot on the charts. The study also concludes bottom performers rarely did anything but continue to sink. Never assume the past will repeat itself, yet, ignore a fund`s historical record at your own peril. Avoid the perennial losers.