Types of Mutual Funds


Mutual funds are investment vehicles that pool money from many investors into one investment pool to buy securities. Each investor owns shares in the fund, which are subject to rules established under the Investment Company Act of 1940.

Different funds charge various fees, such as front-end sales loads and distribution charges. Furthermore, their net asset values and performance results vary.

Equity Funds

There is an expansive range of equity funds to choose from. These investment vehicles invest in stocks and can be divided according to investment objective, risk profile, and style.

Growth funds typically focus on investing in high-growth companies expected to experience rapid expansion, while income funds usually invest in companies offering regular dividend payments. A diversified equity fund with stocks from various market sectors and sizes offers investors another means of diversifying their investments while mitigating any single sector or company size-specific risks.

Some equity funds specialize in specific markets, such as foreign or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE or Nasdaq). International funds tend to be more volatile since they invest in foreign markets outside their own. Sector funds invest in stocks related to particular economies or industries – like technology or healthcare – making them ideal investments for aggressive investors.

Balanced funds are another type of equity mutual fund that invests in stocks and bonds in an equal ratio, as specified by its prospectus. Bond funds often invest in long-term debt instruments such as certificates of deposit or bonds to produce less volatility than equity funds while still earning investors steady returns; many offer higher yields than others.

Fixed Income Funds

Fixed income funds (also referred to as bond funds) invest in debt instruments that pay a fixed interest, such as bonds and debentures, that provide regular income streams that may help offset stock market volatility while potentially improving returns over time.

Investors investing in top fixed-income funds must remember that these funds tend to be less volatile than equity funds; however, capital loss still poses a threat in case of declining markets.

Bond funds are an excellent way to diversify your portfolio. However, they may not be appropriate for everyone – generally speaking, they should only be used as supplements to your other investments and limit exposure to bond funds to 30% or less of total assets.

Bond funds are especially susceptible to interest rate changes, with rising rates often leading to increased bond prices, while falling ones often bring them down. Furthermore, bond funds may face prepayment risk and credit risk.

Bondholders may also be vulnerable to inflation. Rising prices can erode the purchasing power of bondholders, potentially wiping out some or all of their investments.

Longer-duration bond funds tend to experience more volatility than short-duration ones due to longer duration and, thus, more vulnerable to interest rate fluctuations. Therefore, it is wise to diversify your holdings by purchasing short- and longer-term bond funds – particularly low-cost funds offering high yield and steady returns.

Bond Funds

Bond funds provide an alternative to stocks, though not without risk. Investors pool their money together to invest in debt instruments with fixed returns, such as government, corporate, and municipal/authority bonds – potentially offering higher returns than money market instruments or deposit rates.

There are various kinds of bond funds, each offering unique investment strategies and styles. Value-oriented bond funds target high-quality companies with low price-to-earnings ratios and price-to-book ratios. In contrast, growth-oriented bonds invest in fast-growing young firms likely to experience rapid gains over time. Furthermore, balanced funds combine stocks with bonds, typically offering predefined stock/bond ratios within their prospectuses to provide investors with a steady income and moderate growth potential.

Other mutual fund types include sector funds that invest in specific sectors of the economy – for instance, technology funds invest only in technology stocks – and international funds, which allow you to diversify your portfolio by investing in foreign companies and emerging markets.

All mutual funds carry some risk, with past performance not necessarily reflecting future returns. Furthermore, their asset values can fluctuate as interest rates or economic conditions shift – it is wise to carefully assess all risks before investing in one. If you are in doubt about these risks or want guidance from professionals such as brokers who specialize in mutual fund investments, they can assist in finding funds that best suit your goals and risk tolerance.

Money Market Funds

Money market funds generate revenue from interest payments on their underlying investments, which may or may not be tax-exempt, depending on their nature.

Money market mutual funds are highly liquid investments specializing in short-term assets like cash and government-backed securities. Money market funds offer greater yields than bank savings accounts while maintaining similar levels of liquidity.

Research by ICI has revealed that money market funds are among the most sought-after investments among individuals and institutions alike, accounting for a considerable share of all mutual fund portfolios. They serve an essential financing role in our economy as a go-to cash management vehicle for businesses, banks, nonprofit organizations, and investors.

In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has implemented reforms for money market funds that impose stricter minimum investment requirements and redemption gates or floating net asset values (NAVs). These changes will take effect beginning on August 2, 2018. ICI is working closely with the SEC and its member companies to help ensure these rules do not adversely impact investor returns.

Your choice of money market fund depends on your goals and time horizon. While some MMFs aim to maintain a stable $1 per share NAV and transact at this price, others offer floating NAVs that fluctuate with asset value fluctuations.

Selecting an MMF requires an in-depth knowledge of its risks and investment strategy, which you can gain by consulting its prospectus or fact sheet from your broker, financial services firm, or provider.

Index Funds

Mutual fund investing provides many ways to diversify your portfolio. There are four broad categories of funds: money market, bond or fixed-income, stocks (or equity), and hybrid. Each has its investment objective and approach.

Index funds are mutual funds designed to mimic the composition and performance of a popular market index, making them among the most sought-after funds on the market. Index funds are frequently selected as employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k)s or Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

Passively managed funds differ from actively managed ones in that their fund manager doesn’t select individual industries or stocks for inclusion; instead, they invest across all companies comprising an index they follow. As a result, these passive investments tend to offer lower management fees than actively managed funds.

Active managers aim to outshout the market by strategically selecting stocks based on research and their predictions, hoping this approach will lead to higher returns than the market average. While such strategies often outdo indexes, they aim to beat, and this strategy could underperform.

Like any investment, index funds have associated costs when buying and selling them, such as expense ratio charges levied by fund companies for managing services rendered. You can find this information in their prospectus or when searching their price online.

Capital gains taxes should also be kept in mind when selling index funds; when selling them on the market, their sale will trigger capital gains taxes on both fund and individual levels – something to remember if holding them outside a tax-advantaged account like an IRA or 401(k).