Introduction to Mutual Funds
Types of Mutual Funds
Types of Mutual Funds - Page 2
Mutual Funds Expenses
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Mutual Funds
What are Selection Criteria for Mutual Funds?
Tracking Mutual Funds Performance
What to Look for in a Fund Manager?
SEC Advice For Mutual Funds
A mutual fund is a professionally-managed firm of collective investments that collects money from many investors and invests it in stocks, bonds, short-term money market instruments, and/or other securities.
Simply put, a mutual fund is nothing more than a collection of stocks and/or bonds. You can think of a mutual fund as a company that brings together a group of people and invests their money in stocks, bonds, and other securities. Each investor owns shares, which represent a portion of the holdings of the fund.
You can make money from a mutual fund in three ways:
1) Income is earned from dividends on stocks and interest on bonds. A fund pays out nearly all
of the income it receives over the year to fund owners in the form of a distribution.
2) If the fund sells securities that have increased in price, the fund has a capital gain. Most funds
also pass on these gains to investors in a distribution.
3) If fund holdings increase in price but are not sold by the fund manager, the fund's shares
increase in price. You can then sell your mutual fund shares for a profit.
In a mutual fund, the fund manager, who is also known as the portfolio manager, trades the fund's underlying securities, realizing capital gains or losses, and collects the dividend or interest income. The investment proceeds are then passed along to the individual investors. The value of a share of the mutual fund, known as the net asset value per share (NAV), is calculated daily based on the total value of the fund divided by the number of shares currently issued and outstanding.
Legally known as an "open-end company" under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the primary regulatory statute governing investment companies), a mutual fund is one of three basic types of investment companies available in the United States.
Outside of the United States (with the exception of Canada, which follows the U.S. model), mutual fund may be used as a generic term for various types of collective investment vehicle.
In the United Kingdom and western Europe (including offshore jurisdictions), other forms of collective investment vehicle are prevalent, including unit trusts, open-ended investment companies (OEICs), SICAVs and unitized insurance funds. In Australia and New Zealand the term "mutual fund" is generally not used; the name "managed fund" is used instead.
Usage - Mutual funds can invest in many different kinds of securities. The most common are cash instruments, stock, and bonds, but there are hundreds of sub-categories. Stock funds, for instance, can invest primarily in the shares of a particular industry, such as technology or utilities. These are known as sector funds.
Bond funds can vary according to risk (e.g., high-yield junk bonds or investment-grade corporate bonds), type of issuers (e.g., government agencies, corporations, or municipalities), or maturity of the bonds (short- or long-term). Both stock and bond funds can invest in primarily U.S. securities (domestic funds), both U.S. and foreign securities (global funds), or primarily foreign securities (international funds).
Net asset value - or NAV, is the current market value of a fund's holdings, less the fund's liabilities, usually expressed as a per-share amount. For most funds, the NAV is determined daily, after the close of trading on some specified financial exchange, but some funds update their NAV multiple times during the trading day. The public offering price, or POP, is the NAV plus a sales charge.
Open-end funds sell shares at the POP and redeem shares at the NAV, and so process orders only after the NAV is determined. Closed-end funds (the shares of which are traded by investors) may trade at a higher or lower price than their NAV; this is known as a premium or discount, respectively. If a fund is divided into multiple classes of shares, each class will typically have its own NAV, reflecting differences in fees and expenses paid by the different classes.
Turnover - is a measure of the fund's securities transactions, usually calculated over a year's time, and usually expressed as a percentage of net asset value.
This value is usually calculated as the value of all transactions (buying, selling) divided by 2 divided by the fund's total holdings; i.e., the fund counts one security sold and another one bought as one "turnover". Thus turnover measures the replacement of holdings.
Buying and Selling - You can buy some mutual funds (no-load) by contacting the fund companies directly. Other funds are sold through brokers, banks, financial planners, or insurance agents. If you buy through a third party there is a good chance they'll hit you with a sales charge (load).
That being said, more and more funds can be purchased through no-transaction fee programs that offer funds of many companies. Sometimes referred to as a "fund supermarket," this service lets you consolidate your holdings and record keeping, and it still allows you to buy funds without sales charges from many different companies. Popular examples are Schwab's OneSource, Vanguard's FundAccess, and Fidelity's FundsNetwork. Many large brokerages have similar offerings.
Selling a fund is as easy as purchasing one. All mutual funds will redeem (buy back) your shares on any business day. In the United States, companies must send you the payment within seven days.
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