Mutual fund

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A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment fund that pools money from many investors to purchase securities. The term is typically used in the United States, Canada, and India, while similar structures across the globe include the SICAV in Europe ('investment company with variable capital') and open-ended investment company (OEIC) in the UK.

Contents

Mutual funds are often classified by their principal investments: money market funds, bond or fixed income funds, stock or equity funds, or hybrid funds. [1] Funds may also be categorized as index funds, which are passively managed funds that track the performance of an index, such as a stock market index or bond market index, or actively managed funds, which seek to outperform stock market indices but generally charge higher fees. Primary structures of mutual funds are open-end funds, closed-end funds, unit investment trusts.

Open-end funds are purchased from or sold to the issuer at the net asset value of each share as of the close of the trading day in which the order was placed, as long as the order was placed within a specified period before the close of trading. They can be traded directly with the issuer. [2]

Mutual funds have advantages and disadvantages compared to direct investing in individual securities. The advantages of mutual funds include economies of scale, diversification, liquidity, and professional management. [3] However, these come with mutual fund fees and expenses.

Mutual funds are regulated by governmental bodies and are required to publish information including performance, comparison of performance to benchmarks, fees charged, and securities held. A single mutual fund may have several share classes by which larger investors pay lower fees.

Hedge funds and exchange-traded funds are not mutual funds.

Market size

At the end of 2020, open-end mutual fund assets worldwide were $63.1 trillion. [4] The countries with the largest mutual fund industries are:

  1. United States: $23.9 trillion
  2. Australia: $5.3 trillion
  3. Ireland: $3.4 trillion
  4. Germany: $2.5 trillion
  5. Luxembourg: $2.2 trillion
  6. France: $2.2 trillion
  7. Japan: $2.1 trillion
  8. Canada: $1.9 trillion
  9. United Kingdom: $1.9 trillion
  10. China: $1.4 trillion

At the end of 2019, 23% of household financial assets were invested in mutual funds. Mutual funds accounted for approximately 50% of the assets in individual retirement accounts, 401(k)s and other similar retirement plans. [4]

Luxembourg and Ireland are the primary jurisdictions for the registration of UCITS funds. These funds may be sold throughout the European Union and in other countries that have adopted mutual recognition regimes.

History

Early history

The first modern investment funds, the precursor of mutual funds, were established in the Dutch Republic. In response to the financial crisis of 1772–1773, Amsterdam-based businessman Abraham (or Adriaan) van Ketwich formed a trust named Eendragt Maakt Magt ("unity creates strength"). His aim was to provide small investors with an opportunity to diversify. [5] [6]

Mutual funds were introduced to the United States in the 1890s. Early U.S. funds were generally closed-end funds with a fixed number of shares that often traded at prices above the portfolio net asset value. The first open-end mutual fund with redeemable shares was established on March 21, 1924, as the Massachusetts Investors Trust, which still in existence today and managed by MFS Investment Management.

In the United States, closed-end funds remained more popular than open-end funds throughout the 1920s. In 1929, open-end funds accounted for only 5% of the industry's $27 billion in total assets.

After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the United States Congress passed a series of acts regulating the securities markets in general and mutual funds in particular.

These new regulations encouraged the development of open-end mutual funds (as opposed to closed-end funds). [7]

Growth in the U.S. mutual fund industry remained limited until the 1950s when confidence in the stock market returned. In the 1960s, Fidelity Investments began marketing mutual funds to the public, rather than only wealthier individuals or those working in the finance industry. [8] The introduction of money market funds in the high-interest rate environment of the late 1970s boosted industry growth dramatically. The first retail index fund, First Index Investment Trust, was formed in 1976 by The Vanguard Group, headed by John Bogle; it is now called the "Vanguard 500 Index Fund" and is one of the largest mutual funds.

Beginning the 1980s, the mutual fund industry began a period of growth. [4] According to Robert Pozen and Theresa Hamacher, growth was the result of three factors:

  1. A bull market for both stocks and bonds,
  2. New product introductions (including funds based on municipal bonds, various industry sectors, international funds, and target date funds) and
  3. Wider distribution of fund shares. Among the new distribution channels were retirement plans. Mutual funds are now the a preferred investment option in certain types of retirement plans, specifically in 401(k), other defined contribution plans and in individual retirement accounts (IRAs), all of which surged in popularity in the 1980s. [9]

The 2003 mutual fund scandal involved unequal treatment of fund shareholders whereby some fund management companies allowed favored investors to engage in prohibited late trading or market timing. The scandal was uncovered by former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and led to an increase in regulation.

In a 2007 study about German mutual funds, Johannes Gomolka and Ralf Jasny found statistical evidence of illegal time zone arbitrage in trading of German mutual funds. [10] Though reported to regulators, BaFin never commented on these results.

Features

Like other types of investment funds, mutual funds have advantages and disadvantages compared to alternative structures or investing directly in individual securities. According to Robert Pozen and Theresa Hamacher, these are:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Mutual funds have disadvantages as well, which include:

Regulation and operation

United States

In the United States, the principal laws governing mutual funds are:

Mutual funds are overseen by a board of directors if organized as a corporation, or by a board of trustees, if organized as a trust. The Board must ensure that the fund is managed in the interests of the fund's investors. The board hires the fund manager and other service providers to the fund.

The sponsor or fund management company often referred to as the fund manager, trades (buys and sells) the fund's investments in accordance with the fund's investment objective. Funds that are managed by the same company under the same brand are known as a fund family or fund complex. A fund manager must be a registered investment adviser.

European Union

In the European Union, funds are governed by laws and regulations established by their home country. However, the European Union has established a mutual recognition regime that allows funds regulated in one country to be sold in all other countries in the European Union, if they comply with certain requirements. The directive establishing this regime is the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities Directive 2009, and funds that comply with its requirements are known as UCITS funds.

Canada

Regulation of mutual funds in Canada is primarily governed by National Instrument 81-102 "Mutual Funds", which is implemented separately in each province or territory. The Canadian Securities Administrator works to harmonize regulation across Canada. [14]

Hong Kong

In the Hong Kong market mutual funds are regulated by two authorities:

Taiwan

In Taiwan, mutual funds are regulated by the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC). [17]

India

Mutual funds in India are regulated by Securities and Exchange Board of India, the regulator of the securities and commodity market owned by the Government of India. [18] under the SEBI(Mutual Funds) regulations 1996. The functional aspect of Mutual Funds industry comes under the purview of AMFI, a sub division of SEBI. Formed in August 1995, the body undertook the Mutual Funds Sahi hai campaign in March 2017 for promoting investor awareness on mutual funds in India. [19]

Fund structures

There are three primary structures of mutual funds: open-end funds, unit investment trusts, and closed-end funds. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are open-end funds or unit investment trusts that trade on an exchange.

Open-end funds

Open-end mutual funds must be willing to buy back ("redeem") their shares from their investors at the net asset value (NAV) computed that day based upon the prices of the securities owned by the fund. In the United States, open-end funds must be willing to buy back shares at the end of every business day. In other jurisdictions, open-end funds may only be required to buy back shares at longer intervals. For example, UCITS funds in Europe are only required to accept redemptions twice each month (though most UCITS accept redemptions daily).

Most open-end funds also sell shares to the public every business day; these shares are priced at NAV.

Open-end funds are often referred to simply as "mutual funds".

In the United States at the end of 2019, there were 7,945 open-end mutual funds with combined assets of $21.3 trillion, accounting for 83% of the U.S. industry. [4]

Unit investment trusts

Unit investment trusts (UITs) are issued to the public only once when they are created. UITs generally have a limited life span, established at creation. Investors can redeem shares directly with the fund at any time (similar to an open-end fund) or wait to redeem them upon the trust's termination. Less commonly, they can sell their shares in the open market.

Unlike other types of mutual funds, unit investment trusts do not have a professional investment manager. Their portfolio of securities is established at the creation of the UIT.

In the United States, at the end of 2019, there were 4,571 UITs with combined assets of less than $0.1 trillion. [4]

Closed-end funds

Closed-end funds generally issue shares to the public only once, when they are created through an initial public offering. Their shares are then listed for trading on a stock exchange. Investors who want to sell their shares must sell their shares to another investor in the market; they cannot sell their shares back to the fund. The price that investors receive for their shares may be significantly different from NAV; it may be at a "premium" to NAV (i.e., higher than NAV) or, more commonly, at a "discount" to NAV (i.e., lower than NAV).

In the United States, at the end of 2019, there were 500 closed-end mutual funds with combined assets of $0.28 trillion. [4]

Classification of funds by types of underlying investments

Mutual funds may be classified by their principal investments, as described in the prospectus and investment objective. The four main categories of funds are money market funds, bond or fixed-income funds, stock or equity funds, and hybrid funds. Within these categories, funds may be sub-classified by investment objective, investment approach, or specific focus.

The types of securities that a particular fund may invest in are set forth in the fund's prospectus, a legal document that describes the fund's investment objective, investment approach and permitted investments. The investment objective describes the type of income that the fund seeks. For example, a capital appreciation fund generally looks to earn most of its returns from increases in the prices of the securities it holds, rather than from dividend or interest income. The investment approach describes the criteria that the fund manager uses to select investments for the fund.

Bond, stock, and hybrid funds may be classified as either index (or passively-managed) funds or actively managed funds.

Alternative investments which incorporate advanced techniques such as hedging known as "liquid alternatives".

Money market funds

Money market funds invest in money market instruments, which are fixed income securities with a very short time to maturity and high credit quality. Investors often use money market funds as a substitute for bank savings accounts, though money market funds are not insured by the government, unlike bank savings accounts.

In the United States, money market funds sold to retail investors and those investing in government securities may maintain a stable net asset value of $1 per share, when they comply with certain conditions. Money market funds sold to institutional investors that invest in non-government securities must compute a net asset value based on the value of the securities held in the funds.

In the United States, at the end of 2019, assets in money market funds were $3.6 trillion, representing 14% of the industry. [4]

Bond funds

Bond funds invest in fixed income or debt securities. Bond funds can be sub-classified according to:

In the United States, at the end of 2019, assets in bond funds (of all types) were $5.7 trillion, representing 22% of the industry. [4]

Stock funds

Stock or equity funds invest in common stocks. Stock funds may focus on a particular area of the stock market, such as

In the United States, at the end of 2019, assets in stock funds (of all types) were $15.0 trillion, representing 58% of the industry. [4]

Funds which invest in a relatively small number of stocks are known as "focus funds".

Hybrid funds

Hybrid funds invest in both bonds and stocks or in convertible securities. Balanced funds, asset allocation funds, convertible bond funds, [20] target date or target-risk funds, and lifecycle or lifestyle funds are all types of hybrid funds. The performance of hybrid funds can be explained by a combination of stock factors (e.g., Fama–French three-factor model), bond factors (e.g., excess returns of a Government bond index), option factors (e.g., implied stock-market volatility), and fund factors (e.g., the net supply of convertible bonds). [21]

Hybrid funds may be structured as fund of funds, meaning that they invest by buying shares in other mutual funds that invest in securities. Many funds of funds invest in affiliated funds (meaning mutual funds managed by the same fund sponsor), although some invest in unaffiliated funds (i.e., managed by other fund sponsors) or some combination of the two.

In the United States, at the end of 2019, assets in hybrid funds were $1.6 trillion, representing 6% of the industry. [4]

Other funds

Funds may invest in commodities or other investments.

Expenses

Investors in a mutual fund pay the fund's expenses. Some of these expenses reduce the value of an investor's account; others are paid by the fund and reduce net asset value.

These expenses fall into five categories:

Management fee

The management fee is paid by the fund to the management company or sponsor that organizes the fund, provides the portfolio management or investment advisory services, and normally lends its brand to the fund. The fund manager may also provide other administrative services. The management fee often has breakpoints, which means that it declines as assets (in either the specific fund or in the fund family as a whole) increase. The fund's board reviews the management fee annually. Fund shareholders must vote on any proposed increase, but the fund manager or sponsor can agree to waive some or all of the management fees in order to lower the fund's expense ratio.

Index funds generally charge a lower management fee than actively-managed funds.

Distribution charges

Distribution charges pay for marketing, distribution of the fund's shares as well as services to investors. There are three types of distribution charges.

Distribution charges generally vary for each share class.

Securities transaction fees incurred by the fund

A mutual fund pays expenses related to buying or selling the securities in its portfolio. These expenses may include brokerage commissions. These costs are normally positively correlated with turnover.

Shareholder transaction fees

Shareholders may be required to pay fees for certain transactions, such as buying or selling shares of the fund. A fund may charge a fee for maintaining an individual retirement account for an investor.

Some funds charge redemption fees when an investor sells fund shares shortly after buying them (usually defined as within 30, 60, or 90 days of purchase). Redemption fees are computed as a percentage of the sale amount. Shareholder transaction fees are not part of the expense ratio.

Fund services charges

A mutual fund may pay for other services including:

The fund manager or sponsor may agree to subsidize some of these charges.

Expense ratio

The expense ratio equals recurring fees and expenses charged to the fund during the year divided by average net assets. The management fee and fund services charges are ordinarily included in the expense ratio. Front-end and back-end loads, securities transaction fees, and shareholder transaction fees are normally excluded.

To facilitate comparisons of expenses, regulators generally require that funds use the same formula to compute the expense ratio and publish the results.

No-load fund

In the United States, a fund that calls itself "no-load" cannot charge a front-end load or back-end load under any circumstances and cannot charge a distribution and services fee greater than 0.25% of fund assets.

Controversy regarding fees and expenses

Critics of the fund industry argue that fund expenses are too high. They believe that the market for mutual funds is not competitive and that there are many hidden fees so that it is difficult for investors to reduce the fees that they pay. They argue that the most effective way for investors to raise the returns they earn from mutual funds is to invest in funds with low expense ratios.

Fund managers counter that fees are determined by a highly competitive market and, therefore, reflect the value that investors attribute to the service provided. They also note that fees are clearly disclosed.

Definitions of key terms

Average annual total return

Mutual funds in the United States are required to report the average annual compounded rates of return for one-, five-and-ten year-periods using the following formula: [22]

P(1+T)n = ERV

Where:

P = a hypothetical initial payment of $1,000

T = average annual total return

n = number of years

ERV = ending redeemable value of a hypothetical $1,000 payment made at the beginning of the one-, five-, or ten-year periods at the end of those periods (or fractional portion).

Net asset value

A fund's net asset value (NAV) equals the current market value of a fund's holdings minus the fund's liabilities (this figure may also be referred to as the fund's "net assets"). It is usually expressed as a per-share amount, computed by dividing net assets by the number of fund shares outstanding. Funds must compute their net asset value according to the rules set forth in their prospectuses. Most compute their NAV at the end of each business day.

Valuing the securities held in a fund's portfolio is often the most difficult part of calculating net asset value. The fund's board typically oversees security valuation.

Share classes

A single mutual fund may give investors a choice of different combinations of front-end loads, back-end loads and distribution and services fee, by offering several different types of shares, known as share classes. All of them invest in the same portfolio of securities, but each has different expenses and, therefore, different net asset values and different performance results. Some of these share classes may be available only to certain types of investors.

Typical share classes for funds sold through brokers or other intermediaries in the United States are:

No-load funds in the United States often have two classes of shares:

Neither class of shares typically charges a front-end or back-end load.

Portfolio turnover

Portfolio turnover is a measure of the volume of a fund's securities trading. It is expressed as a percentage of the average market value of the portfolio's long-term securities. Turnover is the lesser of a fund's purchases or sales during a given year divided by average long-term securities market value for the same period. If the period is less than a year, turnover is generally annualized.

See also

Related Research Articles

Open-end fund is a collective investment scheme that can issue and redeem shares at any time. An investor will generally purchase shares in the fund directly from the fund itself, rather than from the existing shareholders. The term contrasts with a closed-end fund, which typically issues at the outset all the shares that it will issue, with such shares usually thereafter being tradable among investors.

A closed-end fund (CEF) is a fund that raises capital by issuing a fixed number of shares which are not redeemable, and then invest that capital in financial assets such as stocks and bonds. Unlike open-end funds, new shares in a closed-end fund are not created by managers to meet demand from investors. Instead, the shares can be purchased and sold only in the market, which is the original design of the mutual fund, which predates open-end mutual funds but offers the same actively-managed pooled investments.

In accounting, book value is the value of an asset according to its balance sheet account balance. For assets, the value is based on the original cost of the asset less any depreciation, amortization or impairment costs made against the asset. Traditionally, a company's book value is its total assets minus intangible assets and liabilities. However, in practice, depending on the source of the calculation, book value may variably include goodwill, intangible assets, or both. The value inherent in its workforce, part of the intellectual capital of a company, is always ignored. When intangible assets and goodwill are explicitly excluded, the metric is often specified to be "tangible book value".

Fidelity Investments Inc., commonly referred to as Fidelity, earlier as Fidelity Management & Research or FMR, is an American multinational financial services corporation based in Boston, Massachusetts. The company was established in 1946 and is one of the largest asset managers in the world with $4.5 trillion in assets under management, now as of December 2021 their assets under administration amounts to $11.8 trillion. Fidelity Investments operates a brokerage firm, manages a large family of mutual funds, provides fund distribution and investment advice, retirement services, index funds, wealth management, securities execution and clearance, asset custody, and life insurance.

An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a type of investment fund and exchange-traded product, i.e. they are traded on stock exchanges. ETFs are similar in many ways to mutual funds, except that ETFs are bought and sold from other owners throughout the day on stock exchanges whereas mutual funds are bought and sold from the issuer based on their price at day's end. An ETF holds assets such as stocks, bonds, currencies, futures contracts, and/or commodities such as gold bars, and generally operates with an arbitrage mechanism designed to keep it trading close to its net asset value, although deviations can occasionally occur. Most ETFs are index funds: that is, they hold the same securities in the same proportions as a certain stock market index or bond market index. The most popular ETFs in the U.S. replicate the S&P 500 Index, the total market index, the NASDAQ-100 index, the price of gold, the "growth" stocks in the Russell 1000 Index, or the index of the largest technology companies. With the exception of non-transparent actively managed ETFs, in most cases, the list of stocks that each ETF owns, as well as their weightings, is posted daily on the website of the issuer. The largest ETFs have annual fees of 0.03% of the amount invested, or even lower, although specialty ETFs can have annual fees well in excess of 1% of the amount invested. These fees are paid to the ETF issuer out of dividends received from the underlying holdings or from selling assets.

A money market fund is an open-ended mutual fund that invests in short-term debt securities such as US Treasury bills and commercial paper. Money market funds are managed with the goal of maintaining a highly stable asset value through liquid investments, while paying income to investors in the form of dividends. Although they are not insured against loss, actual losses have been quite rare in practice.

Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) is an Indian financial services company based in Mumbai. It is a major housing finance provider in India. It also has a presence in banking, life and general insurance, asset management, venture capital, realty, education, deposits and education loans.

Net asset value (NAV) is the value of an entity's assets minus the value of its liabilities, often in relation to open-end or mutual funds, since shares of such funds registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are redeemed at their net asset value. It is also a key figure with regard to hedge funds and venture capital funds when calculating the value of the underlying investments in these funds by investors. This may also be the same as the book value or the equity value of a business. Net asset value may represent the value of the total equity, or it may be divided by the number of shares outstanding held by investors, thereby representing the net asset value per share.

Investment management is the professional asset management of various securities, including shareholdings, bonds, and other assets, such as real estate, to meet specified investment goals for the benefit of investors. Investors may be institutions, such as insurance companies, pension funds, corporations, charities, educational establishments, or private investors, either directly via investment contracts or, more commonly, via collective investment schemes like mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or REITs.

A "fund of funds" (FOF) is an investment strategy of holding a portfolio of other investment funds rather than investing directly in stocks, bonds or other securities. This type of investing is often referred to as multi-manager investment. A fund of funds may be "fettered", meaning that it invests only in funds managed by the same investment company, or "unfettered", meaning that it can invest in external funds run by other managers.

A unit trust is a form of collective investment constituted under a trust deed. A unit trust pools investors' money into a single fund, which is managed by a fund manager. Unit trusts offer access to a wide range of investments, and depending on the trust, it may invest in securities such as shares, bonds, gilts, and also properties, mortgage and cash equivalents. Those investing in the trust own "units" whose price is called the "net asset value" (NAV). The number of these units is not fixed and when more is invested in a unit trust, more units are created.

In finance, assets under management (AUM), sometimes called funds under management, measures the total market value of all the financial assets which an individual or financial institution—such as a mutual fund, venture capital firm, or depository institution—or a decentralized network protocol controls, typically on behalf of a client. These funds may be managed for clients/users or for themselves in the case of a financial institution which has mutual funds or holds its own venture capital. The definition and formula for calculating AUM may differ from one entity to another.

A bond fund or debt fund is a fund that invests in bonds, or other debt securities. Bond funds can be contrasted with stock funds and money funds. Bond funds typically pay periodic dividends that include interest payments on the fund's underlying securities plus periodic realized capital appreciation. Bond funds typically pay higher dividends than CDs and money market accounts. Most bond funds pay out dividends more frequently than individual bonds.

A stock fund, or equity fund, is a fund that invests in stocks, also called equity securities. Stock funds can be contrasted with bond funds and money funds. Fund assets are typically mainly in stock, with some amount of cash, which is generally quite small, as opposed to bonds, notes, or other securities. This may be a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund. The objective of an equity fund is long-term growth through capital gains, although historically dividends have also been an important source of total return. Specific equity funds may focus on a certain sector of the market or may be geared toward a certain level of risk.

Mutual fund fees and expenses are charges that may be incurred by investors who hold mutual funds. Operating a mutual fund involves costs, including shareholder transaction costs, investment advisory fees, and marketing and distribution expenses. Funds pass along these costs to investors in several ways.

The expense ratio of a stock or asset fund is the total percentage of fund assets used for administrative, management, advertising (12b-1), and all other expenses. An expense ratio of 1% per annum means that each year 1% of the fund's total assets will be used to cover expenses. The expense ratio does not include sales loads or brokerage commissions.

The Iman Fund is an American faith based mutual fund that invests in Shariah compliant companies. The fund's 2000 inception catered to the needs of Muslim investors, who not only want to have a financially rewarding investment, but a Shariah compatible one as well.

In the investment management industry, a separately managed account (SMA) is any of several different types of investment accounts. For example, an SMA may be an individual managed investment account; these are often offered by a brokerage firm through one of their brokers or financial consultants and managed by independent investment management firms ; they have varying fee structures. These particular types of SMAs may be called "wrap fee" or "dual contract" accounts, depending on their structure. There is no official designation for the SMA, but there are common characteristics that are represented in many types of SMA programs. These characteristics include an open structure or flexible investment security choices; multiple money managers; and a customized investment portfolio formulated for a client's specific investment objectives or desired restrictions.

Investment fund Way of investing money alongside other investors

An investment fund is a way of investing money alongside other investors in order to benefit from the inherent advantages of working as part of a group such as reducing the risks of the investment by a significant percentage. These advantages include an ability to:

Collective trust funds or Collective Investment Trusts (CITs) are a legal trust administered by a bank or trust company that combines assets for multiple investors who meet specific requirements set forth in the fund’s declaration of trust. Typically, a collective trust pools assets from corporate and governmental profit sharing, pension and stock bonus plans, and charitable and other tax-exempt trusts. While operating in many respects similar to a mutual fund, a collective trust is not regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but rather is established under Title 12, Section 9.18(a)(2) of the Code of Federal Regulations of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a division within the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

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Further reading