Why you should avoid load mutual funds part 2

Copyright 2006 Michael Saville

Paying a load is akin to throwing away most or all of the supposed advantage you get from having a salesman choose a fund for you. If it's true that asset allocation accounts for 95 percent of investment results over long periods of time, then only 5 percent is left over as a reward for having the "right" fund and the "right" manager. But even if a salesman could help you pick that "right" fund, paying him a commission of 5 percent wipes out the benefit.

When you pay a 5 percent load you lose the opportunity to invest 5 percent of your money forever. When you buy a load fund, the money that goes to the salesman goes to work for him, not for you. When you invest in a no-load fund, all your money goes to work for you.

And load percentages are always higher than the quoted figures. For example in a $10,000 investment if $500 goes to the sales organization then $9,500 is invested on your behalf. Funds are allowed to call this a 5 percent commission. In fact, you invested only $9,500, and the $500 load amounts to a commission not of 5 percent but of 5.26 percent on your real investment.

Load amounts are higher than they look. The effect of your commission grows over time. If you avoided a $1,000 commission by investing in a no-load fund, over 25 years you would wind up with nearly $11,000 more if your money compounded at 10 percent. In other words, the $1,000 load would, in effect, be an $11,000 load.

The broker who chooses a fund for you may have a reason to prefer that you buy a poorer-performing fund instead of a top-performing one. Studies show that funds operated by brokerage houses (naturally, they are almost exclusively load funds) have poorer average performance than independent load funds. Yet a broker often earns exotic trips and other perks, in addition to a higher percentage of the commission, for selling house funds. So if you buy a load fund from a broker, at least insist on getting one that is not managed by that brokerage house. You'll then get more objective guidance-and hopefully better performance.

On average, load funds charge higher expenses than no-load funds. These are the expenses that all funds take out of their assets, whether their investors pay loads or not. In a study that covered thousands of funds, Morningstar found that the average load fund charges its investors significantly more than the average no-load fund. Expense ratios among equity funds averaged 1.1 percent for no-loads and 1.6 percent for load funds. Among bond funds, the average was 0.6 percent for no-load funds and 1.1 percent for load funds. Those differences may seem small. But unlike a load, a fund's expense charge hits you year after year after year. The longer you own a high-expense fund, the deeper it reaches into your pockets.

What should you do if you already have a load fund?

You shouldn’t necessarily sell that fund. The reasons for avoiding load funds cease to apply once you already own one. The reason is simple: Once you pay the load, your money is gone. Getting out of the fund won't get it back. Therefore, if you are already in that position, there is no particular advantage to sell that fund just because of the load.

You shouldn’t necessarily keep the fund, either. If the fund has a back-end load, that provision may give you an incentive to leave your money in that fund. Sometimes, back-end loads are structured so that the longer you leave your money in the fund, the lower the load. You should study the prospectus to find this out, or have somebody help you with it. Or call the fund and ask about your options.

Don't keep a fund just because of its back-end load. Even if you keep a back-end-load fund long enough to avoid most or all of the load, the salesperson still got paid the commission. The fund found some way to extract that money from you to cover its commission cost. This could account for some of the higher expenses that load funds levy on their shareholders. And, of course, you may be hit with annual 12b1 fees to cover marketing costs. If this is the case, then you may be paying those fees again and again, every year you own the fund.

In summary, the presence of a load is not reason enough to sell or keep a fund. The decision depends on the details of the load, your own circumstances and needs, and the quality of the fund itself.

Mutual fund as your alternative investment portfolio

: People always say that investment is a money game with the playing rule of "high risk with high return and low risk with low risk". You may want to invest in an investment portfolio that is able to give a good return and stock market is always the best choice in term of high return. But you aware that investment in the stock market will cause you to lose all your money as well, because the game rule said "high risk is high return and low risk comes with low return". Hence, stock game might not suit your risk profile; you may want to look for an alternative that can give comparatively good reward but with much lower risk than stock. If you are categorized in this group, then mutual fund can be your game. Mutual Fund Is A Risk Sharing Game A mutual fund is simply a financial medium that allow a group of investors to pool their money together with a predetermined investment objective. The pooled money will manage by a fund manager. The fund manager is a person who is widely expert in stock and bond markets. He/she is responsible to invest the pooled money into specific securities, usually stocks and bonds. When you are buying shares of mutual fund, you will become one of the fund's shareholders. All the gains and losses will be shared among the fund's shareholders. Hence, mutual fund is a risk sharing game. Compare to stocks and bonds, mutual funds are one of the cost effective and an easy playing game. You do not need to really expert in stock and bond market because the fund manager will take care of it; and you do not need to crack your head to figure out which stocks or bonds to buy, because you have the expert, the fund manager to make the decision for you. You do not need a lot of money to get your start the game; you decide the amount of money you plan to invest into the mutual fund. Some mutual funds may even let you start with just $100. The best part is the cost effectiveness. By pooling money together in a mutual fund, investors can purchase stocks or bonds with much lower trading cost. The biggest advantage of mutual funds as compare to stocks or bonds is "diversification". Diversification Will Lower The Risk Investment experts always advise that if you want to invest you money, "Don't put all your eggs into the same basket; else if the basket fall, all you eggs will break", some will happen on your money, if you invest in one stock, if the stock perform negative, you loss all you money. Diversify your investment to spread out your money into many different types of investments. When one investment is down, another might perform in up trend. Hence, with the diversification of your investment, you will reduce your risk tremendously. You can diversify your investment by purchasing different kinds of stocks and bonds instead of one. But it may take weeks to buy all these investments. In contrary, you can get these done by purchasing a few mutual funds and mutual funds automatically diversify your investment across many stocks and bonds. In Summary Mutual fund is a risk sharing investment portfolio, it's provides you a medium of investing your money into a high earning stock & bond market while automatically diversify your investment to reduce your risk. Hence mutual fund can be your alternative of investment portfolio that will give you higher reward and lower risk.

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.

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.

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.

What are mutual funds loads

Copyright 2006 Michael Saville

Loads are the most talked about fees that mutual funds charge. A "load" on a mutual fund is just another way of saying that the fund charges a sales commission for purchase, sale, or both. There are funds that charge loads and there are funds that do not charge loads (known as "load funds" and "no load funds" respectively).

Front-end loads are sales commissions that are paid up front at the time of your purchase. So, if you give a fund a $10,000 investment and it charges a front-end load of 5%, then the fund will take 5% of your investment (that's $500) and pocket it right away. Only what is left over after the load has been deducted will be invested into the fund (in this example, only $9,500 is invested in the fund from your initial $10,000 investment)

Back-end loads charge their sales commissions when you sell (or "redeem") your shares. So, when you go to redeem your shares in a fund with a back-end load you will end up receiving whatever money the shares are worth minus the sales commission.

Mutual funds charge management fees in order to pay for the management services used to run the fund. In other words, these fees are used to pay the salaries of the fund's managers and analysts. Management fees usually do not amount to more than one percent of the fund's assets, and they are significantly lower for passively-managed funds, such as index funds, than for actively-managed ones. You should remember that a high management fee in no way guarantees a more skilful management team.

Front loads can be reduced if you are investing or planning to invest a certain amount of money. The load reduction schedules are called "break-points." For example, with most fund companies if you are investing over $100,000 or plan to within the next 13 months, you will get a 1% reduction on the front load. The more you invest, the greater the reduction in the load. For some fund companies the break-point reduction begins at $50,000 over 13 months, and with many funds, if you invest over $2 million there is no front load.

If you do not have $50,000 or $100,000 to invest over the next 13 months, you can still earn a reduction on the front load, through "rights of accumulation." Under accumulation rules you will receive fee reductions on the front load when your total investments with one fund family have grown past the break points. Therefore, if you only have $20,000 to invest today, that's OK, someday soon it will grow past the $50,000 or $100,000 initial break-point and you will be eligible for the load discount on your further investments.

The turnover ratio for a mutual fund can provide you with useful information about how expensive a fund is and how it is managed. Turnover ratios measure the amount of trading activity in the fund's portfolio. They are calculated by taking all of the fund's sales for a specified period of time (usually one year) and dividing by the fund's total assets. This number tells you how much the fund's portfolio has changed.

You probably will want to exercise caution when investing in a fund with a high turnover ratio. High turnover means that the fund's manager is buying and selling very often, and, since every sale and every purchase involves a commission, this means that funds with high turnover ratios often have high expenses. Some experts recommend focusing on funds whose turnover ratio is less than 50%.

Market timing with your mutual funds

When investing in bonds, stocks, or mutual funds, investors have the opportunity to increase their rate of return by timing the market - investing when stock markets go up and selling before they decline. A good investor can either time the market prudently, select a good investment, or employ a combination of both to increase his or her rate of return. However, any attempt to increase your rate of return by timing the market entails higher risk. Investors who actively try to time the market should realize that sometimes the unexpected does happen and they could lose money or forgo an excellent return.

Timing the market is difficult. To be successful, you have to make two investment decisions correctly: one to sell and one to buy. If you get either wrong in the short term you are out of luck. In addition, investors should realize that:

1. Stock markets go up more often than they go down.

2. When stock markets decline they tend to decline very quickly. That is, short-term losses are more severe than short-term gains.

3. The bulk of the gains posted by the stock market are posted in a very short time. In short, if you miss one or two good days in the stock market you will forgo the bulk of the gains.

Not many investors are good timers. "The Portable Pension Fiduciary," by John H. Ilkiw, noted the results of a comprehensive study of institutional investors, such as mutual fund and pension fund managers. The study concluded that the median money manager added some value by selecting investments that outperform the market. The best money managers added more than 2 percent per year due to stock selection. However the median money manager lost value by timing the market. Thus, investors should realize that marketing timing can add value but that there are better strategies that increase returns over the long term, incur less risk, and have a higher probability of success.

One of the reasons why it is so difficult to time correctly is due to the difficulty of removing emotion from your investment decision. Investors who invest on emotion tend to overreact: they invest when prices are high and sell when prices are low. Professional money managers, who can remove emotion from their investment decisions, can add value by timing their investments correctly, but the bulk of their excess rates of return are still generated through security selection and other investment strategies. Investors who want to increase their rate of return through market timing should consider a good Tactical Asset Allocation fund. These funds aim to add value by changing the investment mix between cash, bonds, and stocks following strict protocols and models, rather than emotion-based market timing.

Get the mortgage quote your bank doesn t want you tosee

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:

• Verification of employment status and proof of income sources.

• Previous paid credit card bills and other similar statements to show history of genuine payments in past.

• Purchase contract of the house if it is available.

• Bank details such as address of bank and your account numbers are important. Also previous 2-3 months statement of current and savings account are required.

• Tax returns of last two years provide excellent proof of your financial position and hence should always be carried along while visiting the mortgage professional.

• Entire information about other existing debt like car loans, student loans, retail credit cards or furniture loans, if any are required to acquire mortgage deal.

• Presenting any gift vouchers received from relatives and friends would encourage bank managers to have increased faith in your paying capabilities. Such gift letters ensure that money acquired through gifts belongs to the recipient and the recipient does not have any liability on such financial assets.

• Self-employed individuals may present their previous year’s balance sheets and other tax statements.

Another good deal is about initially locking the specific rate of interest at time of proposal that would be charged. The process of loan approval might take some time and during such a time interval there might be fluctuation in rates of interest. Getting mortgage quote fixed at time of application relieves one from falling prey to chances of higher charges being imposed at time of loan approval.

Interest rates charged by bank also depend upon factors as amount of loan required, time period of loan, down payment, discount points, adjustable rates, closing stocks and so on.

How to select a mutual fund

One of the most common ways of selecting a mutual fund is to invest with the crowd in today's hot funds. Unfortunately, jumping from one winning fund to another is a recipe for disaster. The mutual funds that the crowd follows typically have had a hot recent performance and tend to gather all the new mutual fund sales.

Investors as a whole are primarily allocating their new investments to a small number of mutual funds and to a smaller number of mutual fund companies. Investors have invested over $400 billion in the 2843 different mutual funds, but one-third of those assets are invested in only 50 of those funds and one-half of those assets are invested in the largest 100 funds.

There are benefits to following the market leaders. Larger mutual fund companies and larger funds have the ability to reduce costs and attract the best professional money managers. However, the biggest limitation is that today's better-selling mutual fund may not be tomorrow's winner. This is true for any mutual fund but it seems to plague the best seller, and the one that garners the most attention, the most often.

So buying the equity fund that was yesterday's best-seller isn't a strategy that produces excellent returns. You do not have to go fully in the opposite direction and ignore these hot funds, but you should understand their limitations and strengths. They became best-selling funds because they have merit, but you have to access that merit within your own well-diversified portfolio, and not the crowd's current investment trend.

Ways to earn good profit out of mutual fund. it is more of commonsense than an art or science

Mutual funds are the vehicle that help normal individuals to invest together in equity and debt market without taking too much of risk. The mutual funds are created with predetermined investment objectives, to suit different kind of investors. More over mutual funds are made in such a way that they achieve a variety of risk/reward objectives. However, the right way to benefit from mutual funds is to balance the risk as well as the potential to earn. That’s the reason, identifying the right level of risk tolerance, choosing the right schemes and allocation to the right asset class remains the most important factors in ensuring success from a mutual fund portfolio.

First point is the right funds in your Portfolio

When we select funds we need to make sure that we need to have right mix of right funds. For that we need to keep in mind your profile and the kind of fund that matches your profile. If you are a conservative investor, the composition of your portfolio would be different from someone who may have different risk profile and time horizon such as aggressive.

Moreover If you have created a portfolio of different equity funds, and wish to invest more in equity over a period of time. Make sure that you keep an eye over the exposure to all the sectors in which the funds have invested in. we need to look over the fund houses and fund managers styles, strategies, and philosophies. There is a difference between different fund manager’s style and strategies to a good level. The fund houses are very particular to their fund management philosophies and management style. The fund management style is further reflected in the performance of the funds they have.

As far as fund management style is considered we need to look at the performance of their funds over a period of time. To perform consistently over a period of time is not an easy task. Only few funds have been able to perform at a consistent rate. These fund houses and fund managers do follow certain styles which further become the core of the fund philosophies

As a Tax payer – Make use of its hidden potential

Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) are the best instrument that provides an investment option that provides you an affective and safe way to investing in equity market and save taxes. If we take this particular fund as a product it is quiet sure to give good returns over a period of time. Over a period of time equities have the potential to provide better returns compared to other instruments. These ELSS funds being equity oriented provide returns which can be really appreciable. ELSS have the potential to provide better returns than most of the options under Section 80C.

One of the important features is the tax efficiency in terms of returns earned through them. It is important considering that ELSS also aims to distribute income by way of dividend periodically depending on the distributable surplus. Moreover an SIP in any ELSS scheme will help you to save more by investing more, as you save more of taxes. More over the long-term capital gains can be very attractive and is again tax free.

Re-balance your portfolio if required

Ensure that the exposure of your equity portfolio to different market segments i. e. large cap, mid cap and small cap is in the right proportion. If not, you need to realign it according to your risk profile, time period and investment objective. You might need to scuffle the portfolio a bit in order to get it in right shape. An existing investor, need to make sure that the portfolio does not include too much of funds without any proper planning and allocation. The first step in towards rebalancing your portfolio is checking out which funds are not performing up to the mark. For this, the right way would be to compare the performance of your schemes with the benchmark and other funds in the same group. In the case of some non-performing schemes we need to remove them out through the redemption process in phases. We need to take notice towards the exposure to different sectors in the portfolio . While rebalancing the portfolio, the focus should be on those schemes in the portfolio that have been performing consistently and have a good quality portfolio.

How to pick a profitable 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.

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.

Need some mutual fund info

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.

How to look for the best no load mutual funds

Copyright 2006 Michael Saville

Low fees and expense ratios.

In their search for the best no load mutual fund, some investors tend to select mutual funds based solely on their fees and expense ratios. The rationale is that by choosing mutual funds with low fees, investors can have more of their capital invested. Also, no load mutual funds with low expense ratios will pass on more of the returns they earn to their shareholders. However, metrics such as price/earnings ratio and dividend yield on the S&P 500 index, a commonly used proxy for the U. S. stock market, are hardly at bargain levels. Several market experts forecast single digit annual returns for domestic mutual funds over the next decade.

Is shopping for the lowest fees and expense ratios the right way to select mutual funds? Not always. The answer depends on the type of mutual fund you are evaluating, the time you can devote to evaluating and managing your mutual funds investments, and the type of cost incurred.

Investing in the Best No Load Index Mutual Funds.

If you believe markets are generally efficient and prefer to invest in an index mutual fund to achieve an index-like return, shopping for the best index mutual fund based on low fees and a low expense ratio makes perfect sense. An index mutual fund's portfolio manager seeks to invest the fund's assets to track an index as closely and as cost-effectively as possible. Larger index funds have an advantage since they can spread their operating costs over a larger asset base. Some of the interesting index mutual fund options currently available include no load index mutual funds like E*Trade S&P 500 Index Fund (Nasdaq: ETSPX), Fidelity Spartan 500 Index Fund (Nasdaq: FSMKX), and Vanguard 500 Index Fund (Nasdaq: VFINX) with expense ratios of 0.09%, 0.10%, and 0.18%, respectively.

Investing in Actively Managed Mutual Funds and Strategies.

If you believe portfolio managers can add value and out-perform the index through active management, fees and expenses are just one of several important factors to consider. The portfolio manager's ability and investing style are just as important. Therefore, seeking out the best mutual fund based on just low fees and a low expense ratio may not always be the right approach. Ensuring Your Mutual Fund Puts Your Interest First.

Whether you prefer to index or take an active approach to managing your investments, ensuring that your mutual fund is putting your interests first is good investing practice. Mutual funds charge different types of fees. By looking at some key factors concerning fees, you can get a sense of whether the mutual fund puts your interests first or merely seeks to line the mutual fund company's pockets.

Serving the Interests of Long-Term Shareholders - Some mutual funds impose short-term trading fees to discourage frequent trading of mutual fund shares. Frequent trading disrupts efficient management of the mutual fund and increases operating expenses. A short-term trading fee can therefore actually be beneficial to long-term shareholders if the fee is rightly treated by the mutual fund company.

Passing on Savings from Scale Economies - The operating expenses incurred by a mutual fund are a combination of fixed and variable costs. As the assets of a mutual fund increase, the fixed cost gets spread over a larger asset base. Therefore, the expenses incurred to operate the mutual fund as a percentage of the fund's assets should trend lower.

A mutual fund that places the interest of shareholders first must pass on the savings from scale economies to shareholders. The trend in a mutual fund's expense ratio therefore serves as a metric of how seriously a fund takes its fiduciary responsibility.

What are mutual funds

Copyright 2006 Michael Saville

Mutual funds are very popular. In fact, they are the one of the most popular investments on the market today. What does that mean in numbers? There are over 10,000 different funds with over $4 trillion in investments!!

Why are they so popular? For some, it is because of their great returns. Others like funds because they are easy to buy and sell. Still others like them because they are diversified and less risky.

A mutual fund raises money from investors to invest in stocks, bonds, and other securities. It is a package made up of several individual investments. When those investments gain or lose value, you gain or lose as well. When they pay dividends, you get a share of them. Mutual funds also offer professional management and diversification. They do much of your investing work for you.

Mutual funds have been around since the 1800's, but didn't become what we know today until 1924. Even then, they did not become a household word until the 1990's, at which time the number of people owning them tripled. A recent survey shows that 88% of all investors have at least some of their money in mutual funds.

A mutual fund is a special type of company that pools together money from many investors and invests it on behalf of the group, in accordance with a stated set of objectives. Mutual funds raise the money by selling shares of the fund to the public, much like any other company can sell stock in itself to the public. Funds then take the money they receive from the sale of their shares (along with any money made from previous investments) and use it to purchase various investment vehicles, such as stocks, bonds, and money market instruments.

In return for the money they give to the fund when purchasing shares, shareholders receive an equity position in the fund and, in effect, in each of its underlying securities. For most mutual funds, shareholders are free to sell their shares at any time, although the price of a share in a mutual fund will fluctuate daily, depending upon the performance of the securities held by the fund.

Most investors pick mutual funds based on recent fund performance, the suggestion of a friend, and/or the praise bestowed on them by a financial magazine or fund-rating agency. While using these methods can lead one to selecting a quality fund, they can also lead you in the wrong direction and wondering what happened to that "great pick."

Despite the distinctive characteristics of mutual funds - performance, management philosophy, & investment objectives - your specific selections should be chosen within the context of your overall financial plan. Examining features such as past performance are not where your studies should begin. The point of departure is you; your financial priorities; your resources; your approach to investment diversification; your willingness (or lack thereof) to accept market volatility; and your time horizon for a particular investment.

Total Returns are fun to look at and brag about, but simply looking at a fund's total return for the past year is not necessarily a good measure of a fund's quality. For example, investors often talk about how well a specific fund did last year and how happy they are with that performance -- say a 16% return in an equity income fund. Well, in a given year that may or may not have been a good return for an equity income fund. That fund may have under-performed many or most other equity-income funds for the year. Returns should always be measured in context with how other similar "categorized" (e. g.. equity income funds, growth funds, small cap funds, etc.) funds have performed. So don't get overly excited by a funds total return until you see how it compares to other similar funds over the same period.

As it is often said, past performance can't predict future results. But when comparing performance of funds, it is also wise to look beyond the results of one or two years. Most experts suggest that a larger "window" of 5 to 10 years gives a clearer picture of historical performance. Has your fund or the one you are considering performed well over this longer time horizon? Any fund can have one good or one bad year, but if you are investing for the long term, you want a fund that has a consistent track record. While that record doesn't guarantee future results, it gives you an indicator that may be to your advantage.

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.

Going global through mutual funds

There are more than 13500 different publicly traded companies in the world today, and there are over 700 more companies expected to go public within a year. In addition, every major developed country offers investors various bonds to invest in. All of this makes for a lot of different investments and plenty of choice. Investors can take advantage of this choice through a good global balanced fund that invests in bonds and stocks or a global equity fund that invests in stocks all around the world.

A global equity fund invests in stock markets around the world. These funds will have a portion of their investments invested in North America. Europe, and Asia. Some of these funds will own hundreds of securities in order to participate in the growth prospects of many firms while diversifying the risk associated with investing in different companies. A good global equity fund will be a foundation for a well-diversified mutual fund portfolio for almost any investor. Investors could consider including the AGF International Value Fund, the BPI Global Equity Fund, or the Fidelity International Portfolio Fund in their portfolios.

A global balanced fund is a fund that invests in both stock and bond markets around the world. These funds will also always have a portion of their investments invested in stock and bond markets located in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are more conservative than global equity funds because they invest in a combination of stocks and bonds, which affect the fund's performance. Over the long term these funds will provide a lower rate of return for investors but they will also exhibit a lot less risk than a global equity fund. They exhibit less risk because bonds are less volatile than stocks; they do not decline in value to the same magnitude or at the same time as global equity funds. A conservative investor should find a good global balanced fund that will serve as a good foundation for a diversified portfolio.

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.

What are no-load mutual funds

Copyright 2006 Michael Saville

No load mutual funds are mutual funds whose shares are sold without a commission or sales charge. The reason for this is that the shares are distributed directly by the investment company, instead of going through a secondary party. This is the opposite of a load fund, which charges a commission upon the initial purchase at the time of sale.

Since there is no cost for you to enter a no-load fund, all of your money is working for you. If you purchase $10,000 worth of a no-load mutual fund, all $10,000 will be invested into the fund. On the other hand, if you buy a load fund that charges a commission of 5% upon purchase, the amount actually invested in the fund is $9,500. If both funds return 10%, the no-load fund would have grown to $11,000 while the loaded fund only rose to $10,450.

The major idea behind a load fund is that you will make up what you paid in commissions with the solid returns that the managers will provide. However, most studies show that loads don't outperform no-loads.

Most load mutual funds are sold through brokerage houses, financial planners, and people known as "Registered Representatives." With very few exceptions, most of these people operate on the basis of selling as many fund shares as possible. Their commissions are collected up front, as a back end charge, or both. Whether you make money or lose it isn't their primary concern. What matters most to these folks is how often you buy (and generate new commissions for them).

No load funds have traditionally been marketed directly by the mutual fund companies themselves. But today, more and more funds are being offered through discount houses like Fidelity, Schwab, and a host of others. The advantage to this is that you have an unlimited choice of mutual funds in one place. You don't have to open a separate account for each mutual fund family that you purchase.

Most fee based investment advisors have independent relationships with the major discount firms. They're able to offer clients just about any no load mutual fund that is available. They receive no commissions from the firm and only get paid by the client according to a pre-determined fee arrangement. Under this type of arrangement, there's no hidden agenda to try to sell you a particular mutual fund in order to earn a larger commission.

It is best to stick with no-load or low-load funds, but they are becoming more difficult to distinguish from heavily loaded funds. The use of high front-end loads has declined, and funds are now turning to other kinds of charges. Some mutual funds sold by brokerage firms, for example, have lowered their front-end loads to 5%, and others have introduced back-end loads (deferred sales charges), which are sales commissions paid when exiting the fund. In both instances, the load is often accompanied by annual charges.

On the other hand, some no-load funds have found that to compete, they must market themselves much more aggressively. To do so, they have introduced charges of their own.

The result has been the introduction of low loads, redemption fees, and annual charges. Low loads--up to 3%--are sometimes added instead of the annual charges. In addition, some funds have instituted a charge for investing or withdrawing money.

Redemption fees work like back-end loads: You pay a percentage of the value of your fund when you get out. Loads are on the amount you have invested, while redemption fees are calculated against the value of your fund assets. Some funds have sliding scale redemption fees, so that the longer you remain invested, the lower the charge when you leave. Some funds use redemption fees to discourage short-term trading, a policy that is designed to protect longer-term investors. These funds usually have redemption fees that disappear after six months.

Probably the most confusing charge is the annual charge, the 12b-1 plan. The adoption of a 12b-1 plan by a fund permits the adviser to use fund assets to pay for distribution costs, including advertising, distribution of fund literature such as prospectuses and annual reports, and sales commissions paid to brokers. Some funds use 12b-1 plans as masked load charges: They levy very high rates on the fund and use the money to pay brokers to sell the fund. Since the charge is annual and based on the value of the investment, this can result in a total cost to a long-term investor that exceeds a high up-front sales load. A fee table is required in all prospectuses to clarify the impact of a 12b-1 plan and other charges.

The fee table makes the comparison of total expenses among funds easier. Selecting a fund based solely on expenses, including loads and charges, will not give you optimal results, but avoiding funds with high expenses and unnecessary charges is important for long-term performance.

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.

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.

Investors are finding opportunities beyond their u. s. borders

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.

Uti long term advanatge fund

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Exchange traded funds why you should never buy a mutual fund again

Copyright 2006 Equitrend, Inc.

Many investors still don't know about Exchange Traded Funds (or ETFs) and their advantages over traditional mutual funds. In this article, we'll examine Exchange Traded Funds, their history, performance and advantages and why you should never buy a mutual fund again.

ETF 101

Exchange Traded Funds can most accurately be described as the happy marriage of a stock with a mutual fund.

Like mutual funds, when an investor buys an ETF, he is buying a pool of securities at one time. For instance, an ETF known as DIA, or "Diamonds." allows the investor to take a position in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Like a stock, an ETF can be purchased through a brokerage account, can be traded throughout the day, can be bought on margin and offers stock-like trading features such as limit orders, stop orders and short selling

ETFs come in many different flavors. They track all the major indexes like the Dow, S&P 500, NASDAQ 100, Russell 2000 and others. They're also available for investors who want to trade sectors like energy, technology, precious metals, financial, health care, emerging markets, interest rates and many more.

Introduced over 12 years ago, ETFs were initially mostly used by professional traders, but in recent years, have experienced rapid growth as a popular investment vehicle with public investors.

ETFs have gained such widespread acceptance and popularity because they provide significant advantages over mutual funds. The advantages of ETFs include:

--Continuous pricing throughout the day compared to end-of-day pricing for mutual funds

--Can be sold short like a stock which isnЎ¦t possible with mutual funds

--Can be bought on margin

--Can use limit and stop orders so you can exit or enter during the trading day

--Have lower expenses than mutual funds and no management fees

Adding it all up, it's easy to see why Exchange Traded Funds have been growing at a rate of nearly 50% per year since 1993.

Conclusion:

It's easy to see why Exchange Traded Funds have steadily grown in popularity over the last twelve years. By combining the benefits of a mutual fund with the benefits of a stock, they really do offer investors an optimum combination of flexibility and potential profit.

Of course, the large mutual fund companies don't like ETFs but have had to adjust to their new popularity and so many fund families have introduced ETFs of their own in recent years.

For investors, ETFs offer considerable advantages of flexibility, cost and diversity, and therefore, you should never buy a mutual fund again.

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.

Mutual funds - an introduction and brief history

: 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.

Stocks or mutual funds

If you happen to have some money left over at the end of all the bill payments and you have no need for anymore toys, or even if you are beginning a prudent and fiscally responsible gamble on some wealth that incorporates investment opportunities, you may find yourself wondering whether investing in stocks or purchasing mutual funds will offer the best returns. You might also consider this question when considering how to set up a retirement fund.

In order to help make the decision, it is important to understand what stocks and mutual funds are.

Stocks: Most people believe they have a basic understanding of what stocks are, simply because of their exposure to the term in every day usages. Stocks are individual bits of companies that are available to be purchased by the public in open trading on the stock exchange. Stocks are often sold in bundles, and thus to purchase a stock in a specific company often entails some kind of minimum purchase. Stockholders have a vested interest in the company’s well-being, as the price of their stocks are directly related to a company’s performance. Stocks are divided according to the kind of business they represent, which is known as a sector.

Mutual Funds: Mutual funds are collective investments that pools the money from a lot of investors and puts the money in stocks, bonds, and other investments. Mutual funds are usually managed by a certified professional, as opposed to the individual management of stocks. In essence, mutual funds incorporate many different types of stocks.

The question of whether or not to invest in stocks or mutual funds will primarily come down to the personal expertise and wealth of the individual. Many people will be tempted by the “game” aspect of buying stock, as well as the chance to invest singularly in a company that is well-known or can be easily researched. The fact is, however, that by the time stocks become available on the market they are generally already highly priced, and investing in individual stocks is a highly risky maneuver as your entire process hangs on the well-being of just one company. Even wealthy investors diversify their portfolios by investing in several different types of stock, and this can simply be unaffordable for the average person.

The better bet for the beginning investor is to purchase mutual funds. Mutual funds will pool the costs of many different stocks, lessening the risk of losing your money and raising the chances of gain. Mutual funds may not provide quite the excitement of investing in a lucky stock, but they are good investments for a long-term financial opportunity. In addition, mutual funds are managed by professionals that are well acquainted with the pitfalls and opportunities of the investment sector, which will cut down on both risk and the time it would take to pick individual stocks through research and appointments. Mutual funds will also distribute the risks among several investors, and it is all managed by someone who likely has contacts within the financial world.

For the individual with some extra money, who does not have the time or the expertise to properly “play” the stock market, mutual funds will prove the better option.

Secure your retirement with a rollover ira

Switching your job? Retiring? Congratulations! A window of opportunity opens for you with the Rollover Individual Retirement Account or Rollover IRA.

In an era of corporate restructuring and outsourcing, Rollover IRA is among the most powerful means available for securing one’s retirement. Yet, its potential to enlarge one’s assets for the sunset years commonly remains under-appreciated.

The Rollover IRA dramatically increases the range of choices available to you for investing your retirement savings. By offering investment choices hitherto unavailable in employer-sponsored plans such as 401k, 403b, or Section 457 plans, Rollover IRA provides you the means to have direct control of and more aggressively grow your nest egg.

This article discusses the advantages of Rollover IRA over employer-sponsored retirement plans.

So, if you are leaving your job and have accumulated assets in the employer-sponsored retirement plan, continue reading this article to learn about your options and more.

Four Options

You have four options on what you can do with your savings in your employer-sponsored plan when you are switching jobs or retiring.

1) Cash your savings.

2) Continue with the retirement plan of your previous employer.

3) Transfer your savings into the retirement plan sponsored by your new employer.

4) Set up a Rollover IRA account with a mutual fund company and move your retirement savings into that account.

Unless you have a pressing need, it is best not to cash your retirement savings. First, cash withdrawals from the retirement plan will be subject to federal and state taxes. Second, your retirement savings diminish and you will have fewer assets to grow tax-deferred.

While the three other options will not erode your retirement savings and will allow it to grow tax-deferred, they are not equal in their ability to help you boost its growth rate.

Increased Investment Choices

Most employees earn meager returns on their employer-sponsored retirement plan savings. A Dalbar study reports that the average 401k plan investor achieved an annual return of just 3.5% during a 20-year period when the S&P 500 returned 13.0% per year.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that most retirement plans offer only a limited number of investment choices. A Columbia University study finds the median number of mutual fund choices in 401k plans to be just 13. The actual number of equity mutual fund investment choices however is less, since the median number includes money market funds, fixed income funds, and balanced funds.

With fewer investment choices, employer-sponsored plans limit your ability to take advantage of different market trends and to continually position your retirement savings in mutual funds with superior risk-reward profiles.

If you set up a Rollover IRA with a large mutual fund company such as Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price or Vanguard Group, you will break the shackles imposed by your employer-sponsored plan and dramatically increase the number of mutual funds available for investing your retirement savings. Fidelity, for example, provides access to several thousand mutual funds besides the more than 180 mutual funds it manages.

Setting-up the Rollover IRA

Let’s say you decide to move your retirement savings to a Rollover account with a mutual fund company. How do you make it happen?

Contact the mutual fund company in which you wish to open an account and ask them to send you their Rollover IRA kit. Complete the form for opening the Rollover IRA account and mail it to the mutual fund company. Next, complete any forms required by the retirement plan administrator of your previous employer and request transfer of your assets into the Rollover IRA account.

You have two choices for moving your retirement savings to your Rollover IRA account. One is to elect to have the money transferred directly from the employer-sponsored plan to the Rollover IRA account. This is called direct rollover. With the indirect rollover alternative, you take the distribution from the retirement plan and then deposit it in the Rollover IRA account. Unless exceptions apply, you have 60 days to deposit the distribution and qualify for tax-free rollover.

Boosting Your Rollover IRA Performance

You need a strategy to benefit from the wide range of investment choices available in the Rollover IRA. You can develop the strategy yourself or leverage ideas from investment newsletters such as AlphaProfit Sector Investors’ Newsletter to enhance the growth rate of your nest egg.

AlphaProfit’s Focus and Core model portfolios have grown at an average annual rate of 33% and 21% respectively, compared to an average annual return of 13% for the S&P 500 Index from September 30, 2003 to March 31, 2006.

Let’s say you transfer $50,000 from your employer-sponsored retirement plan to the Rollover IRA and the wider range of investment choices helps you increase your annual return from 8% in the former to 12% in the Rollover IRA. At the end of 20 years, your Rollover IRA will be worth $482,315, more than double the $233,048 it would be worth had you stayed on with the employer-sponsored plan -- that too without any cash additions to your Rollover IRA.

Adding to Your Rollover IRA

You can leverage the potential of your Rollover IRA further by adding to it each time you change jobs. With the Rollover IRA already setup, all you have to do is to instruct the retirement plan administrator of your last employer to transfer assets to the Rollover IRA. There is no limit on the amount of money you can transfer.

You may also add money to your Rollover IRA through regular annual contributions. They are however subject to the annual limit for IRA contributions.

Summary

When you are switching jobs or retiring, the Rollover IRA opens a window of opportunity for you, widening the range of investment choices for your retirement assets hitherto not available in the employer-sponsored plan. The self-directed Rollover IRA empowers you to construct and manage a mutual fund portfolio to boost the growth rate of your retirement savings.

Notes: This report is for information purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer to buy or sell securities or to give individual investment advice. This report does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, and particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. The information contained in this report is obtained from various sources believed to be accurate and is provided without warranties of any kind. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC does not represent that this information, including any third party information, is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions herein. Opinions expressed herein reflect the opinion of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC and are subject to change without notice. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC disclaims any liability for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information in this report. The third-party trademarks or service marks appearing within this report are the property of their respective owners. All other trademarks appearing herein are the property of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Owners and employees of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC for their own accounts invest in the Fidelity Mutual Funds included in the AlphaProfit Core and Focus model portfolios. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC neither is associated with nor receives any compensation from Fidelity Investments or other mutual fund companies mentioned in this report. Past performance is neither an indication of nor a guarantee for future results. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Copyright © 2006 AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. All rights reserved.

Operating mutual funds - how these profit exploding money makers actually work

: Although investing in mutual funds isn't the type of subject associated with wild parties and celebrations - it is something the serious investor should consider as a way of increasing their total worth. "But what EXACTLY is a mutual fund" I hear you ask - "how does it work, who does what and how much do they cost?" Hang on, slow down - one question at a time please. What exactly is a mutual fund? Mutual funds are sold in shares to the public, allowing them to own different percentages of the fund depending on the amount they invest. Pay more = own more. Own more = get more $$ back again (theoretically) Simple. Stocks, bonds, money market securities and the like are purchased through the assets of these mutual funds in the financial markets. Shareholders indirectly own the assets held in the mutual fund, but the fund is guided by the investment company that finds the best way to earn the biggest return. (Indirectly owning the assets through these funds allows them to avoid the big tax hit.) How does a Mutual Fund work? Usually, mutual funds are also known as open-ended investment companies. This means that they constantly issue new shares and redeem existing shares, but not all mutual funds are open however. Some mutual funds are ‘locked’ where they no longer will take on new investors. The fund’s Net Asset Value is the key concept to understanding how a mutual fund operates. By this value you can determine the value of a share of the fund at any time. The market value of the fund’s assets less any liabilities, divided by the number of shares outstanding is the formula to understand Net Asset Value. If you work through that it will show you exactly how much each share in the fund is worth when you are looking to invest in them. By comparing this number over time you can see the returns earned in a percentage. This is generally all done for you on a funds website or on any of the mutual fund sites that feature stats. Who does what? Mutual funds basically take your money, combine it with the money of other investors like you and then invest the total pool of money in investments with the best possible return. The returns from the fund are then split to the accounts that bought in by the amount of shares that each person owns. The fund managers then take their cut based on the fees that they charge you and you get your return. These guys are worth it for the money they make you, so why not let them drive the car for a while and let you get the glory? Different investment plans are a staple of the field, allowing investors to do so on a regular amount weekly, monthly, or however else you want to set it up. Continuously invested accounts tend to get a higher yield on average, but if you don’t have the ability to do that, you can still make money. Dollar cost averaging should be your goal; it is the strategy of the top investment experts in the country. How much do they cost? Different mutual funds have different types of fees involved with them as well. Some will charge you an up front percentage of your investment (front load). Some will charge you a percentage of the investment when sold, this is a back end load. Then there are no-load funds which charge you nothing more than the annual operating fees. An individual should seek to only use the no load funds since it saves a lot of your money. There are really no advantages to using a loaded fund unless it offers some incredibly returns. But normally you can find the same returns by several different fund companies. So hunt around, compare not only price but also service and past record to date. And remember - a mutual fund is still based on products themselves that can reduce in value as well as increase - so never invest more than you can afford to be without, just in case!!

Is it true that regular index investing performs good result with low risk

There are many mutual funds and ETF on the market. But only a few performs results as good as s&p 500 or better. Well known that s&p 500 performs good results in long terms. But how can we convert these good results into money? We can buy index fund shares.

Index Funds seek investment results that correspond with the total return of the some market index (for example s&p 500). Investing into index funds gives chance that the result of this investment will be close to result of the index.

As we see, we receive good result doing nothing. It's main advantages of investing into index funds.

This investment strategy works better for long term. It means that you have to invest your money into index funds for 5 years or longer. Most of people have no much money for big one time investment. But we can invest small amount of dollars every month.

We have tested performance for 5-years regular investment into three indexes (S&P500, S&P Mid Caps 400, S&P Small Caps 600). The result of testing shows that every month investing small amounts of dollar gives good results. Statistic shows that you will receive profit from 26% to 28.50% of initial investment into S&P 500 with 80% probability.

We must note that investing into indexes isn't risk-free investment. There are results with loosing in our testing. The poorest result is loosing about 33% of initial investment into S&P 500.

Diversification is the best way to reduce risk. Investing into 2-3 different indexes can reduce risk significantly. Best results are given by investing into indexes with different types of assets (bond index and share index) or different classes of assets (small caps, mid caps, big caps).

You can find full version of this article with full results of our tests here: http://fplab. com/node/116