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Mutual Fund Expenses

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 530)
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An informed investor knows where his money is going. For an investor in mutual funds, it is essential to understand the expenses of mutual funds. These expenses directly influence the returns and cannot be neglected.

The expenses of mutual funds are met from the capital invested in them. The ratio of the expenses associated with the operation of the mutual fund to the total assets of the fund is known as the "expense ratio." It can vary from as low as 0.25% to 1.5%. In some actively managed funds it may be even 2%. The expense ratio is dependant on one more ratio - "the turnover ratio".

"The turnover rate" or the turnover ratio of a fund is the percentage of the fund's portfolio that changes annually. A fund that buys and sells stocks more frequently obviously has higher expenses and thus a higher expense ratio.

The mutual fund expenses have three components:

The Investment Advisory Fee or The Management Fee: This is the money that goes to pay the salaries of the fund managers and other employees of the mutual funds.

Administrative Costs: Administrative costs are the costs associated with the daily activities of the fund. These include stationery costs, costs of maintaining customer help lines and so on.

12b-1 Distribution Fee: The 12b-1 fee is the cost associated with the advertising, marketing and distribution of the mutual fund. This fee is just an additional cost which brings no actual benefit to the investor. It is advisable that an investor avoids funds with high 12b-1 fees.

The law in US puts a limit of 1% of assets as the limit for 12b-1 fees. Also not more than 0.25% of the assets can be paid to brokers as 12b-1 fees.

It is important for the investor to watch the expense ratio of the funds that he has invested in. The expense ratio indicates the amount of money that the fund withdraws from the funds assets every year to meet its expenses. More the expenses of the fund, lower will be the returns to the investor.

However it is also essential to keep the performance of the funds in mind too. A fund may have higher expense ratio, but a better performance can more than compensate higher expenses. For example, a fund having expense ratio 2% and giving 15% returns is better than a fund having 0.5% expense ratio and giving 5% return.

Investors should note: It is not sensible to compare returns of funds in different risk classes. Returns of different classes of funds are dependant on the risks that the fund takes to achieve those returns. An equity fund always carries a greater risk than a debt fund. Similarly an index fund that invests only in relatively stable and thus less risky index stocks, cannot be compared with a fund that invests in small companies whose stocks are volatile and carry greater risk.

Avoiding funds with high expense ratio is a good idea for the new investor. The past performance of a fund may or may not be repeated, but expenses usually do not vary much and will certainly reduce returns in future too.

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Mutual Funds An Introduction And Brief History

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 808)
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Each one of us does not have the expertise or the time to build and manage an investment portfolio. There is an excellent alternative available - mutual funds.

A mutual fund is an investment intermediary by which people can pool their money and invest it according to a predetermined objective.

Each investor of the mutual fund gets a share of the pool proportionate to the initial investment that he makes. The capital of the mutual fund is divided into shares or units and investors get a number of units proportionate to their investment.

The investment objective of the mutual fund is always decided beforehand. Mutual funds invest in bonds, stocks, money-market instruments, real estate, commodities or other investments or many times a combination of any of these.

The details regarding the funds' policies, objectives, charges, services etc are all available in the fund's prospectus and every investor should go through the prospectus before investing in a mutual fund.

The investment decisions for the pool capital are made by a fund manager (or managers). The fund manager decides what securities are to be bought and in what quantity.

The value of units changes with change in aggregate value of the investments made by the mutual fund.

The value of each share or unit of the mutual fund is called NAV (Net Asset Value).

Different funds have different risk - reward profile. A mutual fund that invests in stocks is a greater risk investment than a mutual fund that invests in government bonds. The value of stocks can go down resulting in a loss for the investor, but money invested in bonds is safe (unless the Government defaults - which is rare.) At the same time the greater risk in stocks also presents an opportunity for higher returns. Stocks can go up to any limit, but returns from government bonds are limited to the interest rate offered by the government.

History of Mutual Funds:

The first "pooling of money" for investments was done in 1774. After the 1772-1773 financial crisis, a Dutch merchant Adriaan van Ketwich invited investors to come together to form an investment trust. The goal of the trust was to lower risks involved in investing by providing diversification to the small investors. The funds invested in various European countries such as Austria, Denmark and Spain. The investments were mainly in bonds and equity formed a small portion. The trust was names Eendragt Maakt Magt, which meant "Unity Creates Strength".

The fund had many features that attracted investors:

-It has an embedded lottery.

-There was an assured 4% dividend, which was slightly less than the average rates prevalent at that time. Thus the interest income exceeded the required payouts and the difference was converted to a cash reserve.

-The cash reserve was utilized to retire a few shares annually at 10% premium and hence the remaining shares earned a higher interest. Thus the cash reserve kept increasing over time - further accelerating share redemption.

-The trust was to be dissolved at the end of 25 years and the capital was to be divided among the remaining investors.

However a war with England led to many bonds defaulting. Due to the decrease in investment income, share redemption was suspended in 1782 and later the interest payments were lowered too. The fund was no longer attractive for investors and faded away.

After evolving in Europe for a few years, the idea of mutual funds reached the US at the end if nineteenth century. In the year 1893, the first closed-end fund was formed. It was named the "The Boston Personal Property Trust."

The Alexander Fund in Philadelphia was the first step towards open-end funds. It was established in 1907 and had new issues every six months. Investors were allowed to make redemptions.

The first true open-end fund was the Massachusetts Investors' Trust of Boston. Formed in the year 1924, it went public in 1928. 1928 also saw the emergence of first balanced fund - The Wellington Fund that invested in both stocks and bonds.

The concept of Index based funds was given by William Fouse and John McQuown of the Wells Fargo Bank in 1971. Based on their concept, John Bogle launched the first retail Index Fund in 1976. It was called the First Index Investment Trust. It is now known as the Vanguard 500 Index Fund. It crossed 100 billion dollars in assets in November 2000 and became the World's largest fund.

Today mutual funds have come a long way. Nearly one in two households in the US invests in mutual funds. The popularity of mutual funds is also soaring in developing economies like India. They have become the preferred investment route for many investors, who value the unique combination of diversification, low costs and simplicity provided by the funds.

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Sip Systematic Investment Plan

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 727)
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There are very few points that everybody in this world agrees upon. And the stock market unpredictability is undoubtedly one of them. Even people with several years of experience are not always able to track the stock market dynamics, thus falling prey to faulty decisions. Watertight stock market investing strategy is something that people consider to be elusive. It is something that can be chased, but probably can never be achieved.

But is it a correct notion? Are things like fate, luck, chance, etc., are the only deciding factors in the stock market investments? Or is there any way to approach the stock market in a speculative manner?

The answer to the above question probably lies in the Systematic Investment Plan or SIP (a.k.a. "Periodic Payment Plan" or "Contractual Plan").

Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) Unlike the one-time investment plans, SIP entails regular payments for a fixed period. It allows investors to garner shares of a mutual fund by contributing a fixed (which is often small) amount of money on a regular basis. And it offers the following advantages readily attractive to any investor.

Reduced pressure on your purse - Through SIP you can enter the stock market even with a paltry investment. Your inability to invest a more-or-less fat amount might have kept you away from investing in the stock market. SIP is an ideal solution for your problem.

Building for the future - We have certain needs that can be addressed only through long-term investments. Such needs include children's education, buying a house of your own, post-retirement emergencies, etc. And SIP offers precious help in this regard. It helps you to save a small amount on a regular basis. And in due time it turns into a substantial amount.

Compounds returns - SIP not only helps you reach a substantial amount after a certain period of time. Rather it helps you to reach that amount at an early age, depending when you start investing. You can amass a notable amount at 70 if you start investing at 35. An earlier start at 25 can enable you achieve the same amount by 60.

Lowering the average cost - In SIP you experience low average cost, courtesy dollar-cost average. You invest the same fixed dollar amount in the same investment at regular intervals over an extended period of time. You are buying more shares of an investment when the share price is low. And you are buying fewer shares when the share price is high. And it may result in you paying a lower average price per share.

The dollar-cost averaging strategy does not try to time the market. Rather it reduces the risk of investing a larger amount in an investment at a wrong time. And it does the same by spreading your investments out over a period of months, years, or even decades.

Market timing irrelevance - The previous two paragraphs tell you that SIP makes the market timing irrelevant for you. The stock market unpredictability and volatility often play a deterrent for wannabe investors like you. In SIP, you are completely free from this problem of wrong timing.

The SIP's mode of function

A typical SIP entails monthly investments over a period of 10, 15 or 25 years. You are generally allowed to start your investment with a modest sum.

You do not have direct ownership of the funds. Rather you own an interest in the plan trust. The plan trust invests the investor's regular payments, after deducting applicable fees, in shares of a mutual fund.

Things that you should make clear before investing in an SIP

You should make certain things clear to yourself before going for an SIP investment. They include the following -

a.You should be confident about continuing to make payments for the term of the plan. Withdrawal in the mid way will almost certainly make you lose your money unless you are eligible for a full refund.

b.Check the fees charged by the plan. Also check the circumstances under which the plan waives or reduces certain fees.

c.Study the plan's investment objectives. Take a note of the risks of investing in the plan. And check whether you are comfortable with them.

d.Check your statutory rights to a refund in case you cancel your plan.

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How To Avoid A Bad Mutual Fund

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 387)
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We have all heard the advantages of investing in a mutual fund over trying to pick individual stocks. First of all mutual funds hire professional analysts that are market experts and devout many hours of study to the various stocks. Unless you want to devout a large portion of your free time to the study of the financial reports, you probably won't have as much information to make a decision as a mutual fund manager.

Then there is the well documented advantage of diversification. Risk is reduced by holding several non correlated investments. Put simply, some go up, some go down and combined, the return levels off the fluctuations, or risk.

Finally, a mutual fund offers smaller investors a chance to invest in small increments rather than having to save a large chunk of cash to purchase 100 shares of stock.

Given the above advantages, it's no wonder that mutual funds have become a very popular form of investing. Now there are thousands of mutual funds to choose from, so how does one make a selection? Here are a few tips:

1.Do not be seduced to jump on the recently performing best fund. It may seem like the safe and rational thing to do, but like individual stocks, you want to buy low and sell high, not buy high and pray for more growth.

2.Even good funds may not be able to overcome the force of the overall market. You should be looking for funds that can exceed the broad market without increasing risk. Each fund has certain risk parameters that it is required to follow. Read the prospectus closely to understand what these are.

3.Limit the number of funds that you own. Unless you are trying to simply achieve the same returns as the broad market, diversifying into many mutual funds will not reduce your risk or increase your return by much.

4.Funds that become too popular and too big tend to slip in performance. There are several reasons for this.

Find more valuable mutual fund resources at www.best-mutual-fund.info

One final point to keep in mind is that the type of fund will totally depend on your investment objectives. There are certain funds that are designed for your objectives be they retirement, income, growth, funding the kids college, etc.

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Why You Should Buy No Load Funds

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 615)
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Load is defined as the fee or the commission that an investor pays to a mutual fund at the time of purchasing or redeeming the shares of the mutual fund.

If the commission is charged when the investor buys the shares, it is known as a front-end load. On the other hand if the commission is charged when the investors redeems his shares, it is known as a back-end load.

Certain funds apply back-end loads only if the shares are redeemed within a specific time period after being bought.

The argument for applying loads on mutual fund transactions is that these loads will discourage investors from trading frequently in mutual funds. If the investors quickly move in and out of mutual funds, the funds have to maintain a high cash position to meet these redemptions, which in turn decreases the returns of the funds.

Also frequent trading means the expenses of the mutual funds go up.

There are various arguments against load funds:

-The fees that the mutual funds collect as loads are passed on to the fund brokers. The loads do not provide any incentive for the fund manager for better performance of the funds. In other words, a load fund has no reason why its managers should perform better than those of no-load funds.

-In the last few decades, no difference has been seen in the returns of load and no-load funds (if the loads are not considered.) When the loads are considered, the investors of load funds have actually gained less than the investors of no-load funds.

-When a sales person knows that he is going to get a commission from a load fund, he tends to push the load fund more - even when the load funds are performing poorly as compared to no-load funds.

-Loads are understated by mutual funds. If an investor invests $1000 in a fund with 5% front-end load, the actual investment is only $950. Thus his actual load is $50 in $950 investment - a 5.26% load.

If an investor is already invested in a load fund, it doesn't make sense to exit now. The load has already been paid for. The hold or sell decision should now only be based on what the investor thinks about the future performance of the fund. In a few funds, the exit load depends on the period for which the fund was held. Check the details of the fund prospectus for more information.

In most cases it is better to avoid load funds; however, investors should keep one thing in mind. Sometimes load funds can be a better choice than no-load funds. For example, an investor has a choice of two classes in a fund - class A and class B. Class A has 3% front-end load and Class B has no load. The investor however misses the fine print, which states that Class B has 1% 12b-1 annual fees.

If the fund will make 10% gains each year, its return in Class A (starting with actual amount invested $970) will be

($970) X (1.10) X (1.10) X (1.10) X (1.10) X (1.10) = $1562

For Class B, the returns will be

($1000) X (1.10) X (0.99) X (1.10) X (0.99) X (1.10) X (0.99) X (1.10) X (0.99) X (1.10) X (0.99) = $1532.

Thus the above example is an exception, where in the long run, the load fund will perform better than the no-load fund (with 12b-1 fees).

The fact is that a no-load fund cannot be considered a true no-load fund, if it charges fees from it's investors in the form of 12b-1 and other fees.

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Get The Mortgage Quote Your Bank Doesn T Want You Tosee

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 261)
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Deciding to consider refinancing of mortgage for home loan is a major determination. Next key issue involved is to find ways to get profitable quotes for mortgage from banks. A thorough research of prevailing market rates is essential to obtain competitive quote from mortgage firms. Being familiar with current trends enables one stand a better chance of bargaining for lower interest charges. Mortgage rates usually increase or decrease in accordance with securities in Wall Street. A careful overview of market trends helps one save considerably on interests.

Comparing different loan schemes from a particular mortgage vendor and also form different vendors would facilitate one to choose the most profitable scheme. Among major tools available in market for evaluating dissimilar loans programs is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). Laws of the state make it mandatory to expressively disclose APR while marketing their mortgage rates. This is for the benefit of borrower and to prevent them from falling prey to lower advertised rates, and find out if there are any hidden fees and upfront costs involved later.

Personal meeting with lenders, bank officials' and mortgage professionals' help in getting a competitive interest quote for your loan. Being well prepared with entire documentary evidence in support of your financial situation before meeting the people at bank enhances chances of receiving lower interests. Presenting documents to support your favorable credit history would tempt bank managers to provide you with lucrative mortgage quotes. Papers essential to obtain fast and lucrative loans rates include:

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Investors Are Finding Opportunities Beyond Their U S Borders

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 592)
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Experts say global and international mutual funds can represent a world of opportunity for investors.

Foreign-based companies now comprise fully half of the world's equity market capitalization, up from about one-third in 1970, and many key industries such as oil and gas, wireless telecommunications and building construction are dominated by foreign companies.

However, despite the investment opportunities presented by these companies, research shows that international stocks remain significantly underrepresented in most U.S. portfolios. It's estimated that on average Americans hold only about 5 percent of their portfolios in foreign stocks and funds.

Even if they do not realize it, the lives of Americans are influenced by global companies. Perhaps it was the medication taken before bedtime, the car driven to work or the soft drink that accompanied lunch. All are likely to have been products of companies that operate beyond the U.S.

According to ING Funds, the U.S. retail mutual fund unit of ING Group, one of the largest financial service organizations in the world, international equity markets offer investors exposure to many key industries that countries other than the U.S. dominate.

The mutual fund unit has recently embarked on a "Going Global" campaign to introduce more people to international investing.

"ING is working hard to help more people understand how the world of investing is changing," said Bob Boulware, president and CEO of ING Funds. According to Boulware, "Those that are not thinking globally may be missing out."

Just as the domestic portion of an investor's portfolio is typically allocated to include a range of investment options, investors may wish to apply that same logic to their international portfolio, selecting an array of sub-asset classes to better position themselves for changing international market conditions. One way to get started would be for investors to consider global and international mutual funds.

Global funds can provide exposure to opportunities around the world-both international and domestic. International mutual funds may be better suited for individuals seeking purely foreign holdings to complement their existing domestic portfolio.

Among both global and international funds, an investor may want to consider:

Market Style. Determine if you are seeking value or growth stocks or a blend of both in your international portfolio.

Market Capitalization. Select from small, mid or large "size" companies based on the total dollar value of all its outstanding shares.

Specialty Funds. Designed for investors who wish to target their investments either geographically or to include certain key markets, such as real estate. Some investors may wish to consider a fund-of-funds that includes a diversified portfolio of international holdings. An international fund-of-funds gives investors a footing in a variety of important international asset classes with one investment.

For example, the ING Diversified International Fund is a fund-of-funds that incorporates a range of international market segments, including international growth, international value, international small capitalization stocks and emerging markets. With underlying portfolios managed by some of the world's most respected international portfolio managers, the fund makes it easier to build international asset allocation into your investment plans.

As a recognized leader in global asset management, ING Funds has been focused on providing a mix of global and international investing opportunities for U.S. investors through mutual funds, in part because of its access to more than 700 investment professionals located worldwide with insight into the dynamics of markets in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Americas.

The company's latest white paper, "Seeing the Big Picture: A Global Approach to Investing," provides a primer on a variety of aspects of international investing.

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How To Pick A Profitable Mutual Fund

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 391)
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We have all heard the advantages of investing in a mutual fund over trying to pick individual stocks. First of all mutual funds hire professional analysts that are market experts and devout many hours of study to the various stocks. Unless you want to devout a large portion of your free time to the study of the financial reports, you probably won't have as much information to make a decision as a mutual fund manager.

Then there is the well documented advantage of diversification. Risk is reduced by holding several non correlated investments. Put simply, some go up, some go down and combined, the return levels off the fluctuations, or risk.

Finally, a mutual fund offers smaller investors a chance to invest in small increments rather than having to save a large chunk of cash to purchase 100 shares of stock.

Given the above advantages, it's no wonder that mutual funds have become a very popular form of investing. Now there are thousands of mutual funds to choose from, so how does one make a selection? Here are a few tips:

1. Do not be seduced to jump on the recently performing best fund. It may seem like the safe and rational thing to do, but like individual stocks, you want to buy low and sell high, not buy high and pray for more growth.

2. Even good funds may not be able to overcome the force of the overall market. You should be looking for funds that can exceed the broad market without increasing risk. Each fund has certain risk parameters that it is required to follow. Read the prospectus closely to understand what these are.

3. Limit the number of funds that you own. Unless you are trying to simply achieve the same returns as the broad market, diversifying into many mutual funds will not reduce your risk or increase your return by much.

4. Funds that become too popular and too big tend to slip in performance. There are several reasons for this.

Find more valuable mutual fund resources at www.best-mutual-fund.info

One final point to keep in mind is that the type of fund will totally depend on your investment objectives. There are certain funds that are designed for your objectives be they retirement, income, growth, funding the kids college, etc.

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Need Some Mutual Fund Info

(category: Mutual-Funds, Word count: 342)
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Mutual fund info is one of the most sought after things on the market when it comes to investing. People are considering this fun option for many reasons. First, what is a mutual fund? It is a way of allowing many investors to pool their money together and to allow a professional investment manager to manage the money in the larger sum. Because more is invested as the group, more money can be made in this situation. But, who, what, where and when are all questions that many people are asking as well. Mutual fund info is right around the corner though.

To have the right mutual fund info, you need to do several things. First, you need a personal knowledge, at least somewhat so that you know what is happening and what could happen with your investment. Knowing what is happening will give you an edge, so to speak. Secondly, you need to find a trustworthy investment manager to use for your mutual fund needs. Many of these funds can be found through your financial advisor. To find a manager of your money, it is wise to compare several companies including their history of management, their fees, and the means in which they will communicate with you.

That said, it is still wise to keep an eye on your personal investment at all times. Nevertheless, there are excellent companies out there that will successfully manage your investments, no matter how large or small to your specific needs. It is wise to take the time to find just the right company. Mutual fund info can be found updated continuously right here on the web.

There are also many information portals now devoted to the subject and we recommend reading about it at one of these. Try googling for "mutual fund" and you will be surprised by the abundance of information on the subject. Alternatively you may try looking on Yahoo, MSN or even a decent directory site, all are good sources of this information.

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