Brigitte Werfel January 19, 2020 Mutual Fund
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.
The recent explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf and the resulting chaos and environmental damage tells you that any company can all of a sudden be exposed to dramatic unforeseen risk. In this case it was BP. Mutual Funds can also possess much more risk than you thought you were encountering.
Taxes are often overlooked and can substantially reduce your after-tax gain unless investing within a tax-deferred, retirement account. Avoid funds with large distributions (capital gain payments) by searching for funds with low turnover. Since buying and selling stock incurs transaction costs, lower turnover translates to lower expenses and lower capital gains taxes. Fund managers who seek to boost returns through repeatedly buying and selling securities are no friend of yours.
Understanding Mutual Fund Data Now that you know how to find mutual fund prices today, there is the matter of knowing how to read what it is that you have found. Funds are listed in alphabetical order, divided into columns underneath the name of the managing company. Your average newspaper will display three columns: in the first, you will see "NAV," short for net asset value.
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.
But you have to remember those special mutual fund factors: minimum holding requirements once you buy a fund; short-term penalty fees if you sell too soon, and a possible frozen account if you re-buy a recently sold fund or funds too soon within 12 months. In other words either you or your software must track or base your selling and buying decisions upon how long you have owned a fund with a re-buy restriction on recently sold funds so you do not get caught in the round-trip trap.