Brigitte Werfel February 12, 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."
Index Funds: Any fund that is made up of a static portfolio structured to mirror the investments of a proposed market index is classified as an index fund. There are small cap indices, bond indices, international indices, specialty indices and many others. The most widely used is the S&P 500 index where the fund uses the same 500 stocks that are included in the Standard and Poors 500. These portfolios are only changed when and if the index changes its holdings which allows for a very tax efficient, low turnover investment.
While it does not help the employee`s current tax situation, funds that were contributed on an after-tax basis may be easier to withdraw since they are not subject to the strict IRS rules which apply to pre-tax contributions. It does not include any matching funds that the employer might graciously throw in. Because every penny taken in the form of expenses is at least a nickel you will not have in retirement, you want low-cost funds. If these conditions are met, the funds can be withdrawn and used for one of the following five purposes.
The main advantage of active management is that quality managers use their experience, analytical skills and economic research to help find undervalued investments that are ready to out perform the market. They can focus their buying on the areas that they find most attractive and sell or avoid those that are under-performing. An active manager can take advantage of market dips to buy or sell as necessary which can add value to your investment.
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.
The obvious advantage of mutual funds is that they allow you to pool your money with other investors and leave the decision making to someone else. You do not have to spend your days conducting in-depth analysis of stocks and other investments. You simply invest in a mutual fund and let the manager make the decision for you. That is the theory, but of course we all know we are going to have to do some research before we invest in a mutual fund. How much mutual fund analysis is appropriate before making an investment?
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