Finding a mutual fund that matches both your investment horizon and risk tolerance can be an intimidating challenge. PersonalFN’s Mutual Fund Screener makes the process simpler by enabling you to compare various schemes based on factors like track record, investment objective, NAV value, and number of years in existence among others.
However, making decisions solely on returns alone can be risky; you should take other factors, such as consistency of returns and risk measures, into consideration as well.
What is a mutual fund?
Mutual funds are investment companies that pool the money of many investors into one large pool to purchase securities. Each investor owns shares of the mutual fund, representing part of its total ownership and having access to income and capital gains generated by it. Individual investors may purchase or sell their shares at any time. A fund’s management team oversees its investments and strives to meet its investment goals; its prospectus provides all relevant details about that fund, including investment objectives and risks as well as performance history, fees, and expenses.
The mutual fund NAV, or net asset value, is calculated daily following market close. To sum it up, add up all investments held in its portfolio, subtract fees and expenses, divide by the outstanding shares, then divide again by their NAV to determine the price at which investors buy or sell shares. This formula serves as a price reference point when buying and selling shares of mutual funds.
Mutual fund prospectuses detail the types of securities a mutual fund holds, its investment strategies, and investment styles, such as bond or fixed-income funds, stock or equity funds, and hybrid funds. Mutual funds can also be classified according to their primary investments (bond/fixed income funds; equity/stock funds and hybrid funds), active management strategies that aim to outshout the market through employing experts who analyze investments to outwit it, or index funds which track market indices while generally charging lower fees than active mutual funds.
Fees charged by mutual funds may be classified as distribution charges, management fees, or sales loads. These costs cover marketing, distribution, services provided to investors and annual distribution charges that affect its return. Loads (sales commissions) paid to brokers when investors purchase mutual fund shares may either be expressed as a percentage of the purchase amount (known as front-end loads) or drop as investment increases – an effect known as breakpoints.
When selecting a mutual fund, be sure it invests in stocks you want to own and that meet your long-term investing goals. Stock prices can be volatile and experience fluctuations throughout their course – be sure to work with a financial adviser who will monitor this investment plan closely so that it stays on course to achieving your investment goals.
Types of mutual funds
A range of mutual funds is available for investment purposes that suit various goals, risk profiles, and asset classes. Furthermore, different structural classifications exist, such as open-ended funds, closed-end funds, and interval funds to choose from.
Every type of fund offers different advantages and disadvantages; equity funds often pose higher risks than money market or bond funds as they seek faster growth. Conversely, debt funds tend to provide stable income with reduced volatility.
Before investing in mutual funds, investors should carefully consider their time horizon. Mutual funds may not be the ideal solution if they require their investment within a short time due to high management fees and expenses that reduce overall returns.
Professional managers oversee the assets of mutual funds and manage them according to their stated objective, helping investors diversify their portfolios through investing in stocks, bonds, and other assets that may help increase long-term returns.
Most mutual funds offer various investment options, from fixed-income investments like bonds and cash equivalents to stocks. There are also different styles of funds, such as growth or value funds, company size, or sector. A fund that invests in large-cap stocks with recent price declines would fall under the value fund category, while one that invests in startup tech companies with rapid growth potential would fall into the growth fund category.
Investors can buy and sell shares of mutual funds at any time for the current net asset value (NAV) per share. The NAV is calculated once daily after markets close, considering any purchases and sales during that period.
Closed-end funds, by contrast, may only be purchased and sold at specified intervals determined by their fund house, at which the NAV of such a fund rises and falls based on demand. A unit investment trust (UIT), with traits similar to both mutual and closed-end funds, raises money from investors through one-time public offerings before investing the proceeds in a fixed portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities; at the end of its defined term or when its termination date arrives, any remaining investments are sold off and distributed back to its shareholders.
Fees and expenses
Mutual fund fees and expenses include investment and day-to-day management costs, such as staff salaries and vendor services, along with providing for their operating infrastructure. Most funds charge these expenses via their annual expense ratio, which typically represents a percentage of total assets owned; such expenses could include management fees, 12b-1 fees (which can reach 1% of assets), brokerage commissions/shareholder transaction fees/custodial, legal/accounting expenses as well as transfer agency fees. Some funds also sign waiver/ reimbursement agreements with advisors/service providers, which could reduce costs over time by specific amounts – further reducing expenses over time by that amount.
A fund’s expense ratio helps investors evaluate the relative costs associated with investing. While it should not be used as the sole criterion when selecting funds, its expense ratio is an effective metric to gauge how much investment must be made to reap its returns; typically, funds with lower expense ratios tend to be more cost-effective investments than funds with higher expense ratios.
One factor to remember when selecting a mutual fund is its past performance, although past results don’t guarantee future ones. Furthermore, its risk level should align with your financial goals, investment horizon, and risk tolerance.
TD Ameritrade’s Mutual Funds Explore tool allows you to quickly search for alternatives available through TD Ameritrade for up to five individual mutual fund symbols, returning CEFs, ETFs, and index funds that match similar characteristics as your search results.
Investment in mutual funds can be an excellent way to diversify your portfolio and help you reach long-term financial goals. When selecting a fund, compare its historical returns, risk level, and expense ratio before choosing one that best meets your needs and fits within your overall investment plan. Finding a mutual fund that matches up could make all the difference between meeting or missing retirement financial goals.
An essential step when assessing funds is reviewing their historical performance. Returns are one measure, but evaluating long-term track records is equally crucial. Equity mutual funds tend to exhibit high levels of short-term volatility, so comparing returns over more extended time frames, such as one, three, or five years for accurate analysis would be prudent.
Risk-adjusted returns should also be carefully evaluated, considering the amount of volatility within a fund’s returns. A lower risk-adjusted return could mean higher returns with equal levels of risk.
The attribute of Fund Objectives and Style
Diversification should also be an essential consideration when selecting mutual funds since many offer asset classes such as stocks, bonds, and cash. Diversification can help mitigate risk.
Finally, it is critical that you fully comprehend the fees associated with each mutual fund. Some funds charge upfront or ongoing expenses – you can find this information in its prospectus or use an investment comparison tool like FINRA’s Fund Analyzer to compare fees between mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and indexes.