Sarah Neudorf February 13, 2020 Mutual Fund
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.
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.
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.
For instance Morningstar gives one to five stars as ratings. The score the company first gets on the risk of the fund is what the system is based on. The performance of the fund for the previous five years is then taken away from the original rating. The reliability of this system is not very good as the performance is based on past numbers and can not accurately predict the future earnings or losses on these funds.
Investing in mutual funds online are always subject fees and this can be a tricky subject. Brokers charge fees and these can widely differ depending on the broker you choose to go with. Always read the fine print with anything dealing with money exchanging hands. There could be hidden fees or fees for changing funds that are within the same fund family. Some brokers do not charge any fees and these may be the ones you should look into.
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?