Sophie Moench February 13, 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?
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.
With over 6,000 mutual funds available, it may be tempting to pick funds from a popular star or index rating system. Savvy investors, however, balance multiple factors in their selection process. Ratings represent only the historical performance of funds and cannot predict the future. Performance consistency, management skill, and expense limitations are among the many factors that influence a funds prospects. Each must be carefully evaluated to improve your chances of finding a fund to outperform the market.
Before you invest in a fund, look at the fees the company charges. You will notice these fees in the prospectus. If you are ambitious, you will be able to find the fee structure online. Always go with a fund that has a low expense ratio and stay away from 12b-fees. When buying mutual funds you will have various types of choose from. There are money market funds, municipal bond funds, corporate bond funds, mortgage-backed securities funds, U.S. Government bond funds, stock funds, and index funds.
Actively Managed Funds: All mutual funds that are actively managed by a fund company in an effort to add value to shareholders returns fall into this category. In theory, an experienced portfolio manager can surpass the returns of an index fund by making well-timed and disciplined trades. The unfortunate reality is that the vast majority of fund managers do NOT beat their index. But the good news is that the top 20% of these funds can and do on a regular basis. We will try to focus on this group of quality managers.
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.