Sophie Moench February 25, 2020 Mutual Fund
SEC Chairman Arthur levitt, Jr. warned of growing unfairness in the relationship between individual investors and mutual funds in January 2001. Mr. Levitt made the following comment: "THERE ARE A NUMBER OF INSTANCES THAT, QUITE FRANKLY, DO NOT HONOR AN INVESTOR`S RIGHTS. INSTANCES WHERE...HIDDEN COSTS HURT AN INVESTORS BOTTOM LINE, WHERE SPIN AND HYPE MAKSE THE TRUE PERFORMANCE OF A MUTUAL FUND, AND WHRE ACCOUNTING TRICKS AND SLEIGHT OF HAND DRESS UP A FUND`S FINANCIAL RESULTS"
READ CLOSELY: How do all these fund costs affect you? Well, with the expense ratio which averages 1.6% per year, sales charges 0.5%, turnover generated portfolio transactions costs 0.7%, and opportunity costs - when funds hold cash rather than remain fully invested in stocks - 0.3%. The average mutual fund investor loses 3.1% of their investment returns to these costs each and every year. While this might not seem like much on the surface, costs would consume 31% of a 10% market return. Add in the 1.5% capital gains tax bill that the average fund investor pays each year, and that figure shoots up to 46%, nearly half of a potential 10% return. Do you feel like you are taking one or two steps back while trying to go forward yet?
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.
All the matters are the long term trends, and in the long run stable value funds barely keep up with inflation. Unless you are talking about a lifestyle fund, or a couple of very broad based index funds, you are probably not going to get the diversification you need from such a small number of funds. Generally speaking, if you are given the choice between two funds that cover the same asset class, you probably want to pick the one with the lower cost. Select funds that cover different asset classes.
But you have to remember those special mutual fund factors: minimum holding requirements once you buy a fund; short-term penalty fees if you sell too soon, and a possible frozen account if you re-buy a recently sold fund or funds too soon within 12 months. In other words either you or your software must track or base your selling and buying decisions upon how long you have owned a fund with a re-buy restriction on recently sold funds so you do not get caught in the round-trip trap.
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.