Mutual funds have often seemed like a golden investment because what can be a relatively small amount of money ends up being greatly diversified. The core idea of this kind of investment goes back to the basic rule of, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
In recent years it has become more apparent that there is no such thing as a guaranteed investment. Companies that appear to be solid from all angles can quickly fall apart no matter how big they are. Because of this you would never want to invest all of your money in one or two companies because no matter how good the investment may seem, anything can happen tomorrow; however, when you invest in hundreds of companies that each look like they will have positive returns then even if a high amount of them fail the others should inevitably make up the difference.
Since so many of us can not afford to build such a diverse portfolio on our own, a mutual fund is a great idea. That alone is perhaps the best pro a mutual fund has over things like stock by stock investments. Of course it is important to know that, even over a long period of time, there is never a guarantee your initial investment will pay off. Mutual funds are by no means immune to mistakes and their chosen stocks are by no means immune to failure.
Put simply, a mutual fund is a pool of money provided by individual investors, companies, and other organizations. A fund manager is hired to invest the cash the investors have contributed. The goal of the manager depends upon the type of fund; a fixed-income fund manager, for example, would strive to provide the highest yield at the lowest risk.
1. Mutual Funds Offer Diversification
The beauty of a mutual fund is that you can buy a mutual fund and obtain instant access to a hundreds of individual stocks or bonds. Otherwise, in order to diversify your portfolio, you might have to buy individual securities, which exposes you to more potential volatility.
2. Mutual Funds are Professionally Managed
Many investors don’t have the resources or the time to buy individual stocks. Investing in individual securities, such as stocks, not only takes resources, but a considerable amount of time. By contrast, mutual fund managers and analysts wake up each morning dedicating their professional lives to researching and analyzing current and potential holdings for their mutual fund.
3. Mutual Funds Come in Many Varieties
A mutual fund comes in many types and styles. There are stock funds, bond funds, sector funds, target-date mutual funds, money market mutual funds and balanced funds. Mutual funds allow you to invest in the market whether you believe in active portfolio management (actively managed funds) or you prefer to buy a segment of the market with no interference from a manager (passive funds and index mutual funds). The availability of different types of mutual funds allows you to build a diversified portfolio at low cost and without much difficulty.
4. Mutual Funds Have Low Minimums
Many mutual fund companies allow investors to get started in a mutual fund with as little as P10,000.
5. Systematic Investing and Withdrawals with Mutual Funds
It is simple to invest regularly in a mutual fund. Many mutual fund companies allow investors to invest an affordable amount per month directly into a mutual fund. Money can be pulled directly from a bank account and invested directly in the mutual fund. On the other hand, money can be regularly withdrawn from a mutual fund and be deposited into a bank account. There are generally no fees for this service.
6. Mutual Funds Offer Automatic Reinvestment
An investor can easily and automatically have capital gains and dividends reinvested into their mutual fund without a sales load or extra fees.
7. Mutual Funds Offer Transparency
Mutual fund holdings are publicly available (with some delays in reporting), which ensures that investors are getting what they pay for.
8. Mutual Funds Are Liquid
Just like an individual stock, a mutual fund allows you to request that your shares be converted into cash at any time. If you want to sell your mutual fund, the proceeds from the sale are available the day after you sell the mutual fund.
9. Mutual Funds Have Audited Track Records
A mutual fund company must maintain performance track records for each mutual fund and have them audited for accuracy, which ensures that investors can trust the mutual fund’s stated returns.
10. Safety of Investing in Mutual Funds
If a mutual fund company goes out of business, mutual fund shareholders receive an amount of cash that equals their portion of ownership in the mutual fund. Alternatively, the mutual fund’s Board of Directors might elect a new investment advisor to manage the mutual fund.
1. Mutual Funds Have Hidden Fees
If fees were hidden, those hidden fees would certainly be on the list of disadvantages of mutual funds. The fee is disclosed in the mutual fund prospectus and can be found on the mutual funds’ web sites.
2. No Guarantees.
The value of your mutual fund investment, unlike a bank deposit, could fall and be worth less than the principle initially invested. And, while a money market fund seeks a stable share price, its yield fluctuates, unlike a certificate of deposit. In addition, mutual funds are not insured or guaranteed by an agency of the U.S. government. Bond funds, unlike purchasing a bond directly, will not re-pay the principle at a set point in time.
3. No Control
Mutual funds also offer very little control. In fact, once you have chosen a mutual fund to invest in your control of your money has pretty much come to an end. With most, of, if not all of, these funds the investor not only has no say in what companies get invested in but they can not even find out what the mutual fund’s portfolio looks like. Aside from the funds being unwilling to divulge all of this information they are also often unable to seeing as the day to day trading is so vast.
4. Lack of Liquidity
Yes, there are a lot of different mutual funds in the investment world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are very liquid. With mutual funds, the final transactions aren’t complete until the end of a trading day. It’s not until the final bell when you actual know the price of trades for the fund as a whole. That creates difficulties on days when the market is a volatile time-bomb. You need instant information in order to adjust your trading strategy. Mutual funds do not offer that option.
5. Fluctuating Returns
Mutual funds are like many other investments without a guaranteed return: there is always the possibility that the value of your mutual fund will depreciate. Unlike fixed-income products, such as bonds and Treasury bills, mutual funds experience price fluctuations along with the stocks that make up the fund. When deciding on a particular fund to buy, you need to research the risks involved – just because a professional manager is looking after the fund, that doesn’t mean the performance will be stellar.
Mutual funds provide investors with professional management, but it comes at a cost. Funds will typically have a range of different fees that reduce the overall payout. In mutual funds, the fees are classified into two categories: shareholder fees and annual operating fees.
7. Over Diversification
Although diversification is one of the keys to successful investing, many mutual fund investors tend to overdiversify. The idea of diversification is to reduce the risks associated with holding a single security; overdiversification occurs when investors acquire many funds that are highly related and so don’t get the risk reducing benefits of diversification.
8. Misleading Advertisements
The misleading advertisements of different funds can guide investors down the wrong path. Some funds may be incorrectly labeled as growth funds, while others are classified as small-cap or income.
9. Investment style fluctuations
An investor who wants to maintain a certain asset allocation has to rely on the manager of the fund that he or she selects not to deviate from their stated investment styles. Any changes in priorities or investment styles could override and defeat the investor’s asset allocation.
10. Panic selling
During sharp market downturns, investors often have a tendency to panic. When this happens, they look to sell their fund shares. Since the fund managers must redeem the shares, they have no choice but to sell the underlying securities at a time when there are few, if any, buyers. If not for the flood of redemptions, the fund manager would likely not sell the underlying securities. Thus, the professional manager’s expertise, judgment, and objectives are upset and overridden by the actions of the fund’s investors.
11. No Insurance
Mutual funds, although regulated by the government, are not insured against losses.
When you buy any investment, it’s important to understand both the good and bad points. If the advantages that the investment offers outweigh its disadvantages, it’s quite possible that mutual funds are something to consider. Whether you decide in favor or against mutual funds, the probability of a successful portfolio increases dramatically when you do your homework.
All of this being said, mutual funds are a diverse investment that allows you to buy in with limited money. Perhaps their best perk is that your money ends up being professionally managed by people who are often amongst the best in the business.
List of Leading Mutual Fund Companies in the Philippines
- ATR- Kim Eng Equity Opportunity Fund – www.mutualfund.com.ph
- DWS Deutsche Philippine Equity Fund, Inc.
- First Metro Save and Learn Equity Fund – www.fami.com.ph
- Philam Strategic Growth Fund, Inc. – www.philamfunds.com
- Philequity Fund, Inc. – www.philequity.net
- Philequity PSE Index Fund Inc.
- Sun Life Prosperity Phil. Equity Fund, Inc. – www.sunlifefunds.com
- United Fund, Inc.
sources: mutualfunds.about.com, open-ira.com, nasdaq.com, etf.about.com, finweb.com, pinoymoneytalk.com, photo from helpincommerce.com