Brigitte Werfel February 24, 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?
When you work with mutual funds you can manage them better. You normally do not buy mutual funds directly. Instead you hire a professional manager to care for your purchase. These managers know how to care for the fund and have credentials to prove it. Buy having mutual funds you can keep track of them easier. This is because you only have one portfolio to deal with instead of perhaps hundreds of stocks. And if you need money quickly, you can go with mutual funds because they are very liquid.
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.
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.
Dismiss recent results Past performance is no indicator of future results. No truer words could ever be spoken and they are included in every mutual fund advertisement. But it is extremely difficult to ignore these numbers which the fund companies conveniently place in big bold letters - immediately above the fine print warning us. Nothing is more attractive than a fund with a great record, especially given the dismal performance in the market.
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.