Sarah Neudorf February 17, 2020 Mutual Fund
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?
Most fund ratings are determined by the past performance of the company making the mutual funds available. The mutual funds performance is commonly tracked for a period of five to ten years in order to have a developed pattern emerge as to the performance. Being as the past is sometimes an indication of what the future holds it stands to reason that it should indicate future performance. This is not entirely the case as it is known that unless you can see into the future you will not know what the future holds with certainty.
They are low to moderate risk investments and are very sensitive to interest rate changes - balanced funds mix stocks and bonds to reduce the investment risk of stocks and to benefit from the certainty of bonds - stock index funds consist of stocks of companies which are found in market indexes and who generally follow the stock market. As you near retirement, you might want to switch your investments to more conservative funds to preserve their value. Target-date funds simplify long-term investing.
Spreadsheets & Formulas I have known plenty of investors who have invested extensive time, money and research into choosing their mutual funds. They have devised their own systems, using complex formulas and spreadsheets to allow them to make the right choice about their mutual funds. Ultimately however, this begs the question: If you have to do all this research, why are you buying mutual funds in the first place? For the amount of time you are spending on your decisions, you could buy individual stocks and not pay a money manager a fee.
Funds are usually chosen by those that want to cut down on the risk. The diversity of mutual funds allows for investing in more than one source. A mix of bonds, money market securities or stocks make up a fund in order to cut the risk of putting everything in one place. They are rated in order to help the investor chose which funds are right for them. Each company has its own standards for determining a funds rating.
Here is what I think you should consider doing. First unless you are a real expert, consider buying Index Funds, as opposed to investing in funds that carry a high load, or sales charge associated with them. If you pay a big commission, you simply have less dollars in the investment to work with. Studies show that for most mutual funds, the commission or load simply is not worth it. Do not let a good or even a great salesman talk you into a load fund, unless you have checked for yourself, that the returns over several different periods of time have been outstanding.