How To Avoid A Bad Mutual Fund
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.
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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.
Mutual Fund Expenses
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.
Retirement Planning Plan Your Retirement For Income Through Mutual Fund Investment
Most of the people I have met have not planned for their retirement as they say 'future is unpredictable and we need to live in present' but my dear friend's future is the outcome of present, our present will decide our future. When we think of retirement we generally think of old age, a period when you have to give up the job and sit at home doing nothing. Contrary to the fact, most of the retiree lives a very active life. We need to seriously consider out planning towards retirement because once we retiree our income stops coming but our expenses remain as it is and in some cases it rises with the rising inflation.
In this regard mutual fund has turned out to be the right answer for making retirement planning easier and safer. Mutual fund being managed by professionals is a key to effective retirement planning.
Some people like it. Some people don't but the fact is that retirement is a reality for every working person. Most young people today think cannot think of retirement as reality as they believe in 'living at present'. However, it is important to plan for your post-retirement life if you wish to retain your financial independence and maintain a comfortable standard of living even when you are no longer earning. This is extremely important, because, unlike developed nations, India does not have a social security net. In India people still depend upon bank savings and fixed deposits for retirement purpose, which is unfortunately inadequate.
Retirement Planning acquires added importance because of the fact that though longevity has increased the number of working years haven't, so you end up spending the last phase of your life without earning.
In simple words, retirement planning means making sure you will have enough money to live on after retiring from work. Retirement should be the best period of your life, when you can literally sit back and relax or enjoy your life by reaping benefits of what you earn in so many years of hard work. But it is easier said than done. To achieve a hassle-free retired life, you need to make prudent investment decisions during your working life, thus putting your hard-earned money to work for you in future.
With the special features of mutual funds like Systematic Investment Plan, Systematic withdrawal plan, systematic transfer plan in addition to other unique features of different funds, the investor can easily plan for its post retirement requirements and ways to achieve it.
Unlike many other countries of west, in India we do not have state-sponsored social security for the retired people. While you may be entitled to a pension or income during retirement, but will it be sufficient post retirement.
Although the compulsory savings in provident fund through both employee and employer contributions should offer some cushion, it may not be enough to support you throughout your retirement. That is why retirement planning is extremely important for every one. More over with mutual funds the investors can actually plan for themselves and also achieve their planned objectives. As compared to direct equities this option of mutual fund is much safer for planning your retirement corpus.
There are many reasons for the working individuals to secure their future emergence of separate families and its attendant insecurity, increasing uncertainties in personal and professional life, the growing trends of seeking early retirement and rising health risks are among few important risks. Besides falling interest rates, also the sustained increase in the cost of living make it a compelling case for individuals to plan their finances to fund their retired life.
Planning for retirement is as important as planning your career and marriage. We need to take conscious and careful decisions to prepare for our retirement. Life takes its own course and from the poorest to the wealthiest, every one gets older with time. We get older every day, without realizing. With our coming old age we tend to become more understanding to the facts of life and realize the importance and impact of retirement. The future depends to a great extent on the choices you make today. Right decisions with the help of proper planning, taken at the right time will assure smile and success at the time of retirement.
In my words, retirement planning means making sure you will have enough money to live on after leaving your work. Retirement should be that period of your life, when you can sit back and relax. Retirement should bring more of enjoyment in your life by reaping benefits of what you earn in so many years of hard work. But it is easier said than done. Most of the people live their worst life during retirement. To achieve a hassle-free retired life, you need to make right investment decisions during your working life, thus putting your hard-earned money to work for you in future. If you are not very aware of the investment that you need to undertake then you can easily take help of online advisers to help you with your retirement plan through mutual funds. The earlier you start the better it is for you.
Now retirement planning can be done with a single click and with the advice of a registered mutual fund advisor by Association of mutual funds in India (AMFI). Fill this retirement questionnaire to know your current financial situation and your investor profile which will help you plan for a worry-free retirement.
This is a no obligation free mutual fund advisory; investors can make informed mutual fund investment decisions with the expertise of our advisors.
Why You Should Buy No Load Funds
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.
Is An Index Mutual Fund The Best Choice For Long Term Investing
Do you believe that the world economy will grow? Do you believe that US economy will grow? I do. The major stock indexes are indicators of economy grow. You can make money use this opportunity buying index funds. Investing into index mutual funds is easy, interesting, and profitable. It takes 5 minutes every month! If you are long-term investor, index funds is for you!
It doesn't matter what index you choose. This index will grow due to economy sector grow rate. There are many indexes in the world. But how to get money from indexes grow?
There are many indexes mutual funds. Fund share price change accordance index performance. There are thousands of mutual funds have S&P 500 as a base of their portfolio. The differences from one fund to other are operating company and expenses. Choose fund with fell known operating company and smallest expenses.
Small expenses are very important. If fund have big expenses, the managers steal investors' money. Index fund manager don't buy expensive stock market researches, don't arrive at a difficult decision witch stock to buy. Index fund manager buy stock included into index only. It isn't expensive!
The best investment strategy for indexes mutual funds is to invest some dollar amount monthly. And be the long-term investor - invest for 10 years or more. Our computer modeling of this strategy shows that you will receive profit, if you invest on monthly base during 10 years. I can't give you guaranties that you will get profit but the probability of this is close to 100%.
And the last, if you can, diversify you portfolio. Divide you portfolio into three parts. Buy large capitalization company index fund (S&P 500, DJA), small capitalization index fund (S&P 600) and developed market index fund or international index fund. It makes you portfolio more profitable and more stable.
Sip Systematic Investment Plan
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.
Hedge Funds Establishing A New Frontier
It is difficult to provide a general definition of a hedge fund. Initially, hedge funds would sell short the stock market, thus providing a "hedge" against any stock market declines. Today the term is applied more broadly to any type of private investment partnership. There are thousands of different hedge funds globally. Their primary objective is to make lots of money, and to make money by investing in all sorts of different investments and investments strategies. Most of these strategies are more aggressive than than the investments made by mutual funds.
A hedge fund is thus a private investment fund, which invests in a variety of different investments. The general partner chooses the different investments and also handles all of the trading activity and day-to-day operations of the fund. The investor or the limited partners invest most of the money and participate in the gains of the fund. The general manager usually charges a small management fee and a large incentive bonus if they earn a high rate of return.
While this may sound a lot like a mutual fund, there are major differences between mutual fund and hedge fund:
1. Mutual funds are operated by mutual fund or investment companies and are heavily regulated. Hedge funds, as private funds, have far fewer restrictions and regulations.
2. Mutual fund companies invest their client's money, while hedge funds invest their client's money and their own money in the underlying investments.
3. Hedge funds charge a performance bonus: usually 20 percent of all the gains above a certain hurdle rate, which is in line with equity market returns. Some hedge funds have been able to generate annual rates of return of 50 percent or more, even during difficult market environments.
4. Mutual funds have disclosure and other requirements that prohibit a fund from investing in derivative products, using leverage, short selling, taking too large a position in one investment, or investing in commodities. Hedge funds are free to invest however they wish.
5. Hedge funds are not permitted to solicit investments, which is likely why you hear very little about these funds. During the previous five years some of these funds have doubled, tripled, quadrupled in value or more. However, hedge funds do incur large risks and just as many funds have disappeared after losing big.
Mutual Funds Protect Yourself With Segregated Funds
Segregated funds were initially developed by the insurance industry to compete against mutual funds. Today, many mutual fund companies are in partnership with insurance companies to offer segregated funds to investors. Segregated funds offer some unique benefits not available to mutual fund investors.
Segregated funds offer the following major benefits that are not offered by the traditional mutual fund.
1. Segregated funds offer a guarantee of principal upon maturity of the fund or upon the death of the investor. Thus, there is a 100 percent guarantee on the investment at maturity or death (this may differ for some funds), minus any withdrawals and management fees - even if the market value of the investment has declined. Most segregated funds have a maturity of 10 years after you initial investment.
2. Segregated funds offer creditor protection. If you go bankrupt, creditors cannot access your segregated fund.
3. Segregated funds avoid estate probate fees upon the death of the investor.
4. Segregated funds have a "freeze option" allowing investors to lock in investment gains and thereby increase their investment guarantee. This can be powerful strategy during volatile capital markets.
Segregated funds also offer the following less important benefits:
1. Segregated funds issue a T3 tax slip each year-end, which reports all gains or losses from purchases and redemptions that were made by the investor. This makes calculating your taxes very easy.
2. Segregated funds can serve as an "in trust account," which is useful if you wish to give money to minor children, but with some strings attached.
3. Segregated funds allocate their annual distributions on the basis of how long an investor has invested in the fund during the year, not on the basis of the number of units outstanding. With mutual funds, an investor can invest in November and immediately incur a large tax bill when a capital gain distribution is declared at year-end.
There has been a lot of marketing and publicity surrounding segregated funds and how much value should be placed on their guarantee of principle protection. In the entire mutual fund universe, there have been only three very aggressive and specialized funds that lost money during any 10-year period since 1980. Thus, the odds of losing money after ten years are extremely low. If you decide you need a guarantee, it can cost as much as 1/2 percent per year in additional fees.
However, with further market volatility these guarantees could be very worthwhile. In addition, most major mutual fund companies also offer segregated funds.
Retirement Income Planning Mutual Funds
When willing to invest in mutual funds for Supplemental Retirement Income Planning, you have millions of alternatives. It is always important to analyze the plan, its limitations and the risks you will be running, and thus, it would be easier for you to narrow your alternatives. For this matter, it could be helpful to get in contact with a Retirement Income Planning financial professional.
Mutual funds are classified in three main categories that differ in regards to their risks, features and rewards. They are money market funds, bond funds, which also receive the name of "fixed income" and finally, stock funds, which are also called "equity funds". Let's take a deeper look at each one of them.
Money Market Funds can only invest in just some high-quality, short-term investment that be issued by the U.S. government, U.S. corporations and local governments. These funds attempt to keep the value of a share in a fund, called the net asset value (NAV) at a stable $1.00 a share. The returns for these funds have always been lower than the other two kinds of funds. Because of this, money market funds investors have to be aware about the "inflation risk". Although Bond Funds are a bit risky than money market ones, most of the time, risks can be controlled with greater certainty than stocks. In addition, due to the fact that there are many types of Bund Funds, their risks and rewards vary greatly. These risks may encompass credit risk, which refers to the possibility that issuers whose bonds are owned by the fund do not pay their debts; interest rate risk and prepayment risk, which is associated to the chance that a bond be "retired" early. Finally, there are differences between one stock fund and another. For instance, Growth Funds are focused on stocks that provide large capital gains, Income Funds invest in stocks that pay regular dividends, and Sector Funds are specialized in particular industry segments. In general, they present a medium-to-high level of risk.
Thus, people who are planning to invest in a fund that combines growth and income, which are definitely key factors, may find mutual funds an interesting balanced alternative choice for Supplemental Retirement Income Planning.
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