Sarah Neudorf January 21, 2020 Mutual Fund
Index funds provide a static and very transparent investment portfolio. They also offer very low turnover of securities due to less buying and selling. This allows them to keep operating expenses at a minimum and usually substantially lower than their managed counterparts. The fact that they represent the entire stock or bond holdings of the index provides great diversification, which can also be a disadvantage.
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.
Once you have discovered which index your fund tends to follow it will be obvious on the charts then pick one or two funds that follow the $RUT, one or two that follow the $MID, one or two that follow the EFA foreign funds are usually easy to spot by their names , and finally one or two that follow the NASDAQ.
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.
Index Funds Of course for many of us, our primary investment vehicles are index funds. These are funds which are designed to match the performance of a major stock index. This takes the decision making away from a money manager. It also makes deciding on a fund very easy. If I want to match the market, I simply buy the index I want to match and move on with my life. In many ways this is a win-win.
Mutual Fund returns are meeting the reasonable expectations of investors. In the greatest of bull markets, funds of all sizes seriously under performed the stock market. The inability of 85% of all fund managers even to match the performance of the market overall is the result of high fees (see above) short-term investment horizons and substantial transactions and tax costs.