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What are No-Load Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds that do not charge a front-end or back-end sales load are known as no-load funds. What are Load Mutual Funds? While no-load mutual funds do not require the investor to pay sales charges (i.e., commissions) when buying or selling that fund, it’s important to remember that nothing is free, especially in the world of financial services. The portfolio manager of the fund and his team of analysts still have their salaries, bonuses, retirement benefits, and so on, and fees are needed to pay for it. Continue reading...

How Do I Find the Best Mutual Fund?

It requires a great deal of due diligence, but investors should understand that past performance is not indicative of future performance. Focus on experience. In the stock market, as with most things in life, hindsight is 20/20. There are countless lists on the internet with titles like “The Best Mutual Fund Families” and “50 Winning Mutual Funds.” It is important to understand that the names on those lists are a function of hindsight and not foresight. Continue reading...

What Are the Basics of Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds come in many varieties, but here are some basics to keep in mind to help you find your way. While most people have definitely heard the term mutual fund, many people do not understand how they work and how to use them. With over 10,000 mutual funds available in the marketplace today, the average person may have a hard time selecting appropriate mutual funds for his or her portfolio, determining a good asset mix, and understanding all of the charges associated with buying, owning, and selling mutual funds. Continue reading...

What are the Expenses Associated with Buying and Owning Mutual Funds?

Several forms of fees and expenses may be charged to those who own, buy, or even sell mutual funds. With mutual funds, there two types of charges that might be paid by the investor: expenses and fees. Different types of share classes may have different types structures to their fees and expenses. Expenses are the operating costs of the fund company, essentially, and these show up in all mutual funds, usually labeled as expense ratios. The returns reported by the fund will be after expenses. Continue reading...

What are Small Cap Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds that invest heavily in companies that are small, but not micro-size, can be described as small cap funds. A small capitalization mutual fund primarily invests in small companies. Small companies are usually defined as companies with market capitalization of under $2 billion. The companies in this category are larger than those in the “micro” and “nano” cap categories. A mutual fund investing in small cap companies will generally experience higher price volatility than both mid cap and large cap mutual funds. Over time, small cap companies as a group have tended to outperform the broader market, so the higher risk is associated with higher return. Continue reading...

What are All-Cap Mutual Funds?

All-cap mutual funds invest in companies of all sizes. All-capitalization mutual funds invest in companies without a bias towards the capitalization of the company. In every mutual fund’s prospectus, the stated objective of the fund will be outlined, as well as the agreed-upon asset allocation guidelines. Deviation from these parameters can put fund managers in hot water with regulatory groups like the SEC. Continue reading...

What are Large Cap Mutual Funds?

Large Cap mutual funds primarily invest in companies with the highest market capitalizations. Large capitalization mutual funds, also called “large cap funds,” invest primarily in large companies with market capitalization of over $10 billion. Some examples include Microsoft, General Electric, Google, and other well-known companies. Some large cap mutual funds invest in all of the companies in an index (therefore closely following the performance of that index), and some pick and choose which large companies to select in an attempt to outperform the index. For more information about indices, see “What is Index Investing?” Continue reading...

What are Industry-Specific Mutual Funds?

Industry-specific funds attempt to capture the movements of a single industry. Industry-specific mutual funds will usually limit themselves to investing in particular industries. There are thousands of such funds. Their focus can be very broad (such as technology - here) or very narrow (such as solar energy - here). Investors who would like to gain exposure to specific industries to round out their portfolios can do so with an industry-specific fund which offers diversification among many different holdings in an industry, as opposed to one or two stocks in an industry. Continue reading...

What are Load Mutual Funds?

“Load” mutual funds are those which have a fee structure that includes a front-end or back-end sales charge. All funds have expenses, but not all funds have loads. Loads are sales charges that are part of the fee structure of a mutual fund. Each mutual fund will typically offer a few types of shares classes to its investors, and the main difference between the share classes are their fee structures. There are front-end loads, which come out of your initial investment and can be up to 5%. Continue reading...

What are My Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan Investment Options?

Generally the same kind of investment options available in a 401(k) are present in these plans. Money Purchase and Profit Sharing Plans have several investment options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, fixed accounts, annuities, certificates of deposit, and a few others. Keep in mind that Money Purchase and Profit Sharing Plan investments are determined by the financial institution at which your plan is established. If you are opening a Money Purchase/Profit Sharing Plan, be sure to find out what investment options the financial institution offers and what fees may be charged to accounts per year, per trade, etc. Continue reading...

What is Mutual Fund Classification According to the Price to Earnings Ratio?

Managing a fund based on P/E Ratio generally tends to put valuation ahead of other criteria when selecting stocks. The main categories which can be derived from P/E Ratios are Growth and Value funds. Fund managers may intentionally invest in companies with a higher P/E than the market benchmark, because these tend to be considered Growth stocks. These companies are experiencing growth and are projected to continue to do so, which is seen in the high price of the stocks. Continue reading...

What are My SIMPLE IRA Investment Options?

SIMPLE IRAs will have various kinds of investment options, depending on the trustee company that holds the plan assets. SIMPLE IRA investments are determined by the financial institution at which your SIMPLE IRA is established. When opening a SIMPLE IRA, be sure to check what investment options the financial institution offers as well as the fee structure. Standard ERISA rules apply, meaning that all employees must be offered the same thing. SIMPLE IRAs can only be held at trustee companies whose business model is on the IRS’s list of approved SIMPLE Trustees. Continue reading...

What is a "Breakpoint"?

A breakpoint generally refers to a level of investment at which the fee structure changes. For mutual funds, it can mean a level that triggers a reduced sales load. An investor can either hit the breakpoint at the time of original investment or in some cases can sign a letter of intent to reach a certain investment level and qualify for the reduced fee that way. There may be multiple breakpoints for an investment, with the fee falling at each one. Continue reading...

Will my target mutual funds miss their targets?

Surprisingly, target funds seem to be doing their jobs well enough, despite their ‘one-size-fits-all’ style. There are many target date mutual funds that have appeared in the past 5-10 years, which are supposed to simplify your investment decisions. These target funds are nothing more than carefully selected asset allocations, based on historical models and a client’s time horizon. For example, Target Retirement 2018 will probably consist of 70% Fixed Income Funds, and 30% of Equity Funds, and Target Retirement 2028 will probably consist of 50% Fixed Income Funds and 50% Equity Funds, etc. Continue reading...

What are Blend Mutual Funds?

Blend mutual funds offer exposure to both growth stocks and value stocks. Blend mutual funds seek to capture the upside of growth stocks as well as the dividend yield of value stocks. P/E ratios can be used to identify a growth or value stock: where a P/E over about 25 is a growth stock and under about 15 is a value stock. Blend funds are generally considered a good core asset, but are not the same thing as a Core Fund. Continue reading...

What are Growth Mutual Funds?

Companies that generally have high P/E ratios, high expected growth rates, and that generally do not pay dividends are likely to be found in the portfolio of a growth mutual fund. Growth mutual funds invest in companies that are developing and/or have a high potential for growth, as the name implies. Growth Funds are typically riskier because the companies they invest in have a heightened chance of both profiting and failing. Continue reading...

What are Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds are managed portfolios of stocks and bonds, where the portfolio manager uses pooled investor funds to manage the portfolio. In the U.S., the first mutual fund was created in 1924 when three investors in Boston pooled their money and formed the Massachusetts Investors’ Trust. The essence behind Mutual Funds today is the same – a pool of money is collected from a number of investors and then professionally managed. Continue reading...

What does “Buy-Side” Mean?

The “buy side” refers to businesses in the financial services industry such as pensions, mutual funds, and asset managers that manage money. Since firms on this “side” of Wall Street tend to be the ones buying and selling securities for their portfolios, when a person works for one of these funds or companies they are said to be on the “buy side.” Research analysts that provide analysis and data to fund managers solely for the purpose of making investment decisions within the portfolio are “buy side analysts.” That research is typically not published for public use. Continue reading...

What are My Keogh Plan Investment Options?

Keoghs can hold a wide range of investments, and it will mostly depend on your plan trustee. Keogh plans have the ability to include many investment options, from stocks to bonds, certificates of deposit to cash value life insurance, and so on. Keep in mind that Keogh Plan investments are usually determined by the financial institution at which your Keogh Plan is established. When opening a Keogh Plan, be sure to check what investment options the financial institution offers, and how much in fees and commissions they would charge for these investments. Standard ERISA rules apply, so all employees must be offered the same options. Continue reading...

What are Mid-Cap Mutual Funds?

Mid-cap mutual funds invest in medium-size companies. A middle capitalization mutual fund invests mostly in medium-size companies. While the definition of “medium-size company” varies, most professionals define it as a company with a market capitalization from $2 billion to $10 billion. Companies you may have heard of within this size range are Eaton Vance, Guess, and others. In general, mid cap companies are more volatile than large cap companies, and the choice of the right fund managers becomes more important. Continue reading...