Types Of Mutual Funds
Introduction to Mutual Funds
Stock or Equity funds - which consist mainly of stock investments, are the most common type of mutual fund. Equity funds hold 50 percent of all amounts invested in mutual funds in the United States. Often equity funds focus investments on particular strategies and certain types of issuers.
Growth funds - invest in stocks of companies that have the potential for large capital gains, and value funds. They tend not to pay regular dividends.
Value funds - concentrate on stocks that are undervalued. Value stocks have historically produced higher returns; however, financial theory states this is compensation for their greater risk.
Income funds - their purpose is to provide current income on a steady basis. When referring to mutual funds, the terms "fixed-income," "bond," and "income" are synonymous. These terms denote funds that invest primarily in government and corporate debt. While fund holdings may appreciate in value, the primary objective of these funds is to provide a steady cashflow to investors. As such, the audience for these funds consists of conservative investors and retirees.
Bond funds - account for 18% of mutual fund assets. Types of bond funds include term funds, which have a fixed set of time (short-, medium-, or long-term) before they mature. Municipal bond funds generally have lower returns, but have tax advantages and lower risk. High-yield bond funds invest in corporate bonds, including high-yield or junk bonds. With the potential for high yield, these bonds also come with greater risk.
Money market funds - hold 26% of mutual fund assets in the United States. These entail the least risk, as well as lower rates of return. Unlike certificates of deposit (CDs), money market shares are liquid and redeemable at any time. The interest rate quoted by money market funds is known as the 7 Day SEC Yield Mutual Fund.
The money market consists of short-term debt instruments, mostly Treasury bills. This is a safe place to park your money. You won't get great returns, but you won't have to worry about losing your principal. A typical return is twice the amount you would earn in a regular checking/savings account and a little less than the average certificate of deposit (CD).
A balanced fund may use a combination of strategies, typically including some level of investment in bonds, to stay more conservative when it comes to risk, yet aim for some growth.
Mutual funds vs. other investments - Mutual funds offer several advantages over investing in individual stocks. For example, the transaction costs are divided among all the mutual fund shareholders, who also benefit by having a third party (professional fund managers) apply expertise and dedicate time to manage and research investment options. However, despite the professional management, mutual funds are not immune to risks. They share the same risks associated with the investments made. If the fund invests primarily in stocks, it is usually subject to the same ups and downs and risks as the stock market.
Share classes - Many mutual funds offer more than one class of shares. For example, you may have seen a fund that offers "Class A" and "Class B" shares. Each class will invest in the same pool (or investment portfolio) of securities and will have the same investment objectives and policies.
However, each class will have different shareholder services and/or distribution arrangements with different fees and expenses. These differences are supposed to reflect different costs involved in servicing investors in various classes.
A multi-class structure offers investors the ability to select a fee and expense structure that is most appropriate for their investment goals (including the length of time that they expect to remain invested in the fund).
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