Mutual funds are a popular investment vehicle simply because they offer a number of features to suit the objectives of many types of investors.
Picture a collection of stocks, bonds, or other securities that are purchased by a group of investors and then managed by an investment company. That’s a mutual fund. When you buy a share in a fund, you’re really buying a piece of a large, diverse portfolio. Conversely, stocks are shares of a single company. When it comes to managing an investment, some investors prefer leaving those details and skills to someone else.
They like having a professional manager oversee the day-to-day decisions that a changing stock investment involves and see that as a distinct advantage. A good manager, they might argue, has access to information that would cost them an exorbitant amount, even if they had the time and inclination to do the work themselves.
On the other hand, some investors would never surrender control of their investments. Part of the thrill of investing is knowing that when they succeed it was due to their own decisions, these investors might say.Individual comfort level plays a big part in your investment choice.
There are thousands of different mutual funds offered on the market. They range from funds that include a broad variety of investments to funds that invest exclusively in single securities or narrow sectors of the market. With the many different investment styles and objectives, there’s bound to be a number of mutual funds that are suited to your investing profile. Each of these funds has expense, risk, and return characteristics. Be sure you understand these characteristics before you invest.
Growth and income funds attempt to achieve both long-term growth and current income. They invest primarily in high-yield common stock, preferred stock, and convertible debt (bonds) to generate both growth and income. Because they include a mix of investments, these funds are typically less risky than growth funds.
Aggressive growth funds, sometimes known as “small-cap” funds, seek maximum capital gains. They invest primarily in the stock of smaller, less established companies. Since these companies generally pay little or no dividends, aggressive growth funds rely on capital growth for returns. These funds tend to be the riskiest of growth-oriented mutual funds. Investments in small companies and emerging markets securities are more volatile and carry greater risk than securities of large companies.
Sector funds invest in specific industries or sectors of the economy, such as communications, aerospace and defense, or health care. While they may be diversified within a particular sector, they lack broad diversification. This increases their investment risk. These funds typically seek long-term capital appreciation.
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