Why Invest in a Mutual Fund?
Mutual funds make saving and investing simple, accessible, and affordable. The advantages of mutual funds include professional management, diversification, variety, liquidity, affordability, convenience, and ease of recordkeeping—as well as strict government regulation and full disclosure.
Professional Management Even under the best of market conditions, it takes an astute, experienced investor to choose investments correctly, and a further commitment of time to continually monitor those investments. With mutual funds, experienced professionals manage a portfolio of securities for you full-time, and decide which securities to buy and sell based on extensive research. A fund is usually managed by an individual or a team choosing investments that best match the fund’s objectives. As economic conditions change, the managers often adjust the mix of the fund’s investments to ensure it continues to meet the fund’s objectives.
Diversification Successful investors know that diversifying their investments can help reduce the adverse impact of a single investment. Mutual funds introduce diversification to your investment portfolio automatically by holding a wide variety of securities. Moreover, since you pool your assets with those of other investors, a mutual fund allows you to obtain a more diversified portfolio than you would probably be able to comfortably manage on your own—and at a fraction of the cost. In short, funds allow you the opportunity to invest in many markets and sectors. That’s the key benefit of diversification.
Variety Within the broad categories of stock, bond, and money market funds, you can choose among a variety of investment approaches. Today, there are about 8,200 mutual funds available in the U.S., with goals and styles to fit most objectives and circumstances.
Low Costs Mutual funds usually hold dozens or even hundreds of securities like stocks and bonds. The primary way you pay for this service is through a fee that is based on the total value of your account. Because the fund industry consists of hundreds of competing firms and thousands of funds, the actual level of fees can vary. But for most investors, mutual funds provide professional management and diversification at a fraction of the cost of making such investments independently.
Liquidity is the ability to readily access your money in an investment. Mutual fund shares are liquid investments that can be sold on any business day. Mutual funds are required by law to buy, or redeem, shares each business day. The price per share at which you can redeem shares is known as the fund’s net asset value (NAV). NAV is the current market value of all the fund’s assets, minus liabilities, divided by the total number of outstanding shares.
Convenience You can purchase or sell fund shares directly from a fund or through a broker, financial
planner, bank or insurance agent, by mail, over the telephone, and increasingly by personal computer. You can
also arrange for automatic reinvestment or periodic distribution of the dividends and capital gains paid by the fund. Funds may offer a wide variety of other services, including monthly or quarterly account statements, tax information, and 24-hour phone and computer access to fund and account information.
Protecting Investors Not only are mutual funds subject to exacting internal standards, they are also highly regulated by the federal government through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As part of
this government regulation, all funds must meet certain operating standards, observe strict antifraud rules, and disclose complete information to current and potential investors. These laws are strictly enforced and designed to protect investors from fraud and abuse. But these laws obviously cannot help you pick the fund that is right for you or prevent a fund from losing money. You can still lose money by investing in a mutual fund. A mutual fund is not guaranteed or insured by the FDIC or SIPC, even if fund shares are purchased through a bank.