Rules you need to follow when buying mutual funds for the long-term success of your portfolio.
Buying mutual funds should be done with the long term in mind. Find a sound fund that holds good stocks and stick with it.
There are, of course, thousands of mutual fund choices available at any time. But remember that most funds are set up because a fund sponsor has a saleable idea. It may or may not be a good investment idea, and these days it often isn’t. That’s because the marketing department is in charge at many mutual fund organizations. This leads to management decisions that are mainly aimed at selling new units of mutual funds, rather than safeguarding the interests of the investors who are buying mutual funds.
10 Best Practices of Successful Investors
What is the right number of stocks for you? When is the right time to sell? Should you try and imitate Warren Buffett? There are answers to these and many more questions in this report packed with vital investment tips—this is how successful investors get that way.
If the mutual fund’s theme seems to be plucked from recent headlines, stay away. It pays to stay out of narrow-focus, faddish funds, all the more so if they’ve come to market when the fad dominates the financial headlines.
Theme funds like these face a double disadvantage, because they appeal to impulsive investors who pour their money in just as the fad hits its peak. This forces the manager to pay top prices— perhaps to bid prices higher than they’d otherwise go—even if this goes against their better judgment. These same investors are also apt to flee when prices hit their lows, forcing the mutual fund manager to sell at the bottom and lowering the mutual fund’s performance. But when a fad fades, as they all do, the fund’s liquidity dies out with it. The manager may have to dump the mutual fund’s holdings when demand is at its weakest, forcing prices lower than they would otherwise go.
2. Get out of buying bond mutual funds
Many bond funds built great performance records in the last decade. But this was a function of the trend in interest rates; when rates fall, bond prices go up. Interest rates are low right now, but could move upward over the next few years as the economy recovers or in response to inflation fears. This is another way of saying that bond prices could fall.
When bonds yielded 10%, perhaps it made some sense to buy bond funds and pay a yearly MER of, say, 2%. Now that bond yields are down closer to 4%, it makes a lot less sense, and has a greater impact on your mutual fund’s performance.
The bond market is highly efficient, and we doubt that any bond mutual fund’s performance can add enough to offset its management fees. In addition, investing in a bond mutual fund exposes you to the risk that the manager will gamble in the bond market and lose money.
Bonds are attractive for predictable income, and as an offset to the stocks in your portfolio. But it’s cheaper to buy bonds directly than to do so through a bond mutual fund. If you want capital gains, buy stocks or stock-market mutual funds.
3. Beware of buying vaguely described mutual funds
Get rid of mutual funds that show wide disparities between the mutual fund’s portfolio and the investments that the sales literature describes. Many mutual fund operators describe their investing style in vague terms.
It’s often hard to find out much about who is making the decisions, what sort of record they have, and what sort of investing they prefer. We always take a close look at a mutual fund’s performance and investments to see if they differ from what the prospectus or sales literature would lead investors to expect. When the mutual fund takes on a lot more risk than you’d expect, our advice is to get out.
4. Avoid buying mutual funds that trade in derivatives
Some funds are set up to profit by trading in derivatives, based on studies of what would have paid off in the past five years, for example. But other market participants can also access that information. So, things are unlikely to work quite the same way for the mutual fund’s performance over the next five years.
In the long run, derivatives trading is what mathematicians refer to as a “negative-sum game”: one player’s gain is another’s loss, minus commissions and other costs. In the end, trading derivatives costs you money.
5. Avoid mutual fund managers who trade heavily
Some of the most dangerous funds are those run by managers who honestly believe they can increase their performance by frequent in-and-out trading. Many of these managers fail to realize how close their mutual fund’s performance comes to disaster each year, until disaster finally strikes.
If you add up a heavy trader’s losses at the end of a given year, they may amount to a high percentage of their fund’s assets (25%, for example). That may seem perfectly acceptable to the mutual fund manager, so long as the profits on their winning trades are significantly higher than that (for example, 75% of assets).
If the mutual fund manager guesses wrong a few times, however, it’s all too easy to reverse those figures: that is, have losses totalling 75% of assets and profits totalling 25%, so that the mutual fund loses 50% of its capital. If the manager delves into low-quality or highly volatile choices, as heavy traders are apt to do, then the mutual fund’s performance can drop.
6. Avoid buying mutual funds with a lot of dead weight
When a fund’s portfolio shows page after page of obscure speculative stocks, particularly thinly traded ones or recent new issues, you can be exposed to a concealed, but very serious, risk. If the market drops, and too many investors want their money back, the mutual fund may have to sell some of its assets to raise cash.
Obscure speculative holdings will prove hard, if not impossible, to sell when prices are generally low. This may force the mutual fund manager to dump his best holdings at a time of market weakness.
7. Avoid buying mutual funds with anonymous managers
This includes buying mutual funds run by committees. The trouble here is that the brains of the mutual fund may leave, and investors would never know it until they saw the drop in their mutual fund’s performance.
Investor bonus: Why we prefer ETFs over buying mutual funds
ETFs are less expensive to hold. ETFs give you a low-cost way to invest in a narrow market segment. That’s typically cheaper than investing in a mutual fund with a similar focus. With fees as low as 0.10% a year for ETFs vs. mutual funds that can charge you 2% to 3% or higher on their fund. ETFs can save you a lot of money and boost your return if you are investing over time.
ETFs trade on stock exchanges, just like stocks. That’s different from mutual funds, which you can only buy at the end of the day at a price that reflects the fund’s value at the close of trading.
Low turnover. Shares are only added or removed when the underlying index changes. As a result of this low turnover, you won’t incur the regular capital gains taxes generated by the yearly distributions most conventional mutual funds pay out to unitholders.
One interesting note about buying mutual funds comes from the Dalbar organization.
This U.S. research firm’s studies studies of top performing mutual funds show most of their investors who jump in at the top will lose money or make negligible returns. That’s because most investors in a top performing fund only buy into the fund after it has already made big gains. Investors also tend to sell former top performing funds only after a major slump in the value of their holdings. When you chase investment performance, it’s all too easy to buy at the top and sell at the bottom.
What has your experience been buying mutual funds? Has been profitable? Share your experience with us in the comments.
Note: This article was originally published in 2009 and has been updated.
The privacy of the site/store visitor is very important to TSI Network, and is respected at all times. The information we receive from customers helps us to personalize and continually improve your online experience at TSI Network.
We do not collect or disclose personal information, except when it is provided to us voluntarily by the site/store visitor with their consent.
We store subscriber and password files containing personal information securely. These files are stored in secure areas that are not accessible to the general public. We are always working to ensure the security of your personal information.
What personal information do we collect?
The information we receive from customers helps us personalize and continually improve your online experience at TSI Network. TSI Network may collect personal information online for all legal purposes, which include, but are not limited to:
Information You Give Us: We receive and store any information you enter on our website or give us in any other way through sign-up forms or ordering forms for publications and services. You can choose not to provide certain information, but then you might not be able to take advantage of many of our services and features. We use the information that you provide for such purposes as responding to your requests, customizing your web browsing experience for you, improving our website, and communicating with you.
Automatic Information: We receive and store certain types of information whenever you interact with us. For example, like many websites, we use "cookies," and we obtain certain types of information when your web browser accesses TSI Network.
Information from Other Sources: For reasons such as improving personalization of our service (for example, providing better product recommendations or special offers that we think will interest you), we might receive information about you from other sources and add it to our account information. We also sometimes receive updated delivery and address information from our shippers or other sources so that we can correct our records and deliver your next purchase or communication more easily.
We do reserve the right, however, to collect and perform statistical analyses of the internet traffic to our website for our internal use. However, information collected does not allow us to identify any individual, and will not collect any personal information of the visitor. Furthermore, we do not sell, rent or loan to any outside parties the information collected and analyzed.
Although you may be able to access some of our websites without being required to register or provide personal information, certain websites and sections of our websites may require registration. In addition, if you choose to contact us to ask a question, we will collect your personal information so that we can respond to your question.
To make the visitor’s experience on our website easier, we may use per-session “cookies” (session identifiers) to track the state of the visitor session. This “cookie” is destroyed when your session with our website is over.
Cookies are alphanumeric identifiers that we transfer to your computer's hard drive through your web browser to enable our systems to recognize your browser and to provide features like "Remember Me" for our paying subscribers. Cookies are also used during the ordering process to help ensure your order is handled correctly. We do not extract any information about individual users or their computers as a part of this process.
The "Help" portion of the toolbar on most browsers will tell you how to prevent your browser from accepting new cookies, how to have the browser notify you when you receive a new cookie, or how to disable cookies altogether. However, cookies allow you to take full advantage of some of TSI Network's most useful features, and may be required to access certain areas of our website.
Internet Protocol (or IP) addresses are collected for all visitors to this site. This information is used for the purposes of traffic analysis.
Does TSI Network Use the Information It Receives?
"Contact Us" and Comment Features: TSI Network encourages visitors to its websites to contact us with questions and comments. Email addresses and other information of persons using these features may be collected in order to facilitate our responses to those inquiries.
Purchases of Merchandise: TSI Network websites may offer individuals the opportunity to purchase branded or other merchandise online. In connection with those purchases, customers may be asked to submit personal information, such as shipping addresses and credit card information, which is required to complete the transaction. TSI Network may also offer a Membership program, through which purchasers of its products may receive discounts on their online purchases. Membership registration may involve the submission of personal information to TSI Network and assignment of a user ID and password.
Agents: We employ other companies and individuals to perform functions on our behalf. Examples include fulfilling orders, delivering packages, sending postal mail and email, removing repetitive information from customer lists, analyzing data, providing marketing assistance, processing credit card payments and providing customer service. They have access to personal information needed to perform their functions, but may not use it for other purposes.
Promotional Offers: We may make our postal mailing list available to organizations offering products or services that might interest you. If you prefer NOT to receive these offers, please send an email with your name and address to email@example.com with "Do Not Rent Name" in the subject line. We do NOT make our email list available outside our organization.
Protection of TSI Network and Others: We release account and other personal information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with law; enforce the terms of the Legal notices that accompany this policy; or protect the rights, property or safety of TSI Network, our users or others. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organizations for fraud protection and credit risk reduction.
In addition to these limited disclosures of personal information, TSI Network may provide its affiliates or unaffiliated third parties with aggregate information about visitors to our sites. For example, we might disclose the median ages of visitors to our websites, or the numbers of visitors to our websites that come from different geographic areas. Such aggregate information will not include information of any individual visitors to our websites.
TSI Network may provide personal and other information to a purchaser or successor entity in connection with the sale of TSI Network, a subsidiary or line of business associated with TSI Network, or substantially all of the assets of TSI Network or one of its subsidiaries, affiliates or lines of business.
With Your Consent: Other than as set out above, you will receive notice when information about you might go to third parties, and you will have an opportunity to choose not to share the information.
Except as provided herein, TSI Network will not sell or rent personal information about you to unaffiliated third parties.
We may disclose personal information you have provided through our websites, for the above purposes, to persons or companies that we retain to carry out and other activities for which you have registered or in which you have otherwise asked to participate. In particular, we may for these purposes transfer information to any country (including the USA and other countries which may not offer the same level of data protection as Canada). We also will disclose personal information if required by law, including compliance with warrants, subpoenas or other legal processes.
TSI Network requires persons and companies to which it discloses personal information to restrict their use of such information to the purposes for which it has been provided by TSI Network, to adequately protect the information, and not to disclose that information to others. TSI Network cannot be responsible, however, for any damages caused by the failure of unaffiliated third parties to honour their privacy obligations to TSI Network. Similarly, TSI Network is not responsible for the privacy policies and practices of other websites that are linked to our websites.
We’re always happy to receive feedback, comments and ideas from TSI Network visitors, and we encourage you to add your perspective to any issue by leaving your comments on the site.
To make sure users get the most out of the site’s comments function, we’ve provided a few guidelines:
Do not post threatening, harassing, defamatory, or libelous material.
Do not intentionally make false or misleading statements.
Do not offer to sell or buy any product or service.
Do not post material that infringes copyright.
Do not post information that you know to be confidential or sensitive or otherwise in breach of the law.
TSI Network will not accept responsibility for information posted in the comments.
Please note that we reserve the right to delete or edit all comments. As well, we may close posts to further comments at our discretion. If a user repeatedly abuses our comment policy, we may also revoke that user’s access to our comments section.
By commenting on TSI Network, you agree that you retain all ownership rights in what you post on the site, and that you will relieve us from any and all liability that may result from those postings.
Special Note for Parents
TSI Network does not sell products for purchase by children. If you are under 18, you may use TSI Network's site only with involvement of a parent or guardian
How do we protect your personal information?
TSI Network does everything possible to prevent unauthorized intrusion to its websites and the alteration, acquisition or misuse of personal information by unauthorized persons. Notably passwords submitted by users of our websites are encrypted using encryption mechanisms. However, TSI Network cautions visitors to its websites that no network, including the Internet, is entirely secure. Accordingly, we cannot be responsible for loss, corruption or unauthorized acquisition of personal information provided to our websites, or for any damages resulting from such loss, corruption or unauthorized acquisition.
How do we maintain the integrity of your personal information?
TSI Network has procedures in place to keep your personal information accurate, complete and current for the purposes for which it is collected and used. You may review the information that you have provided to us and where appropriate you may request that it be corrected. If you wish to review your personal information please send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I withdraw my consent to use Personal Information? Access, Correction, Inquiries and Complaints
If you wish to request access to, or correction of, your personal information in our custody or control, or find out how we've used or disclosed that information, please make your request in writing to us. We may need to verify your identity before searching for or providing you with personal information. In some circumstances, we may not be able to provide access to your personal information, for example if it contains the personal information of other persons, if it constitutes confidential commercial information, or if it is protected by solicitor-client privilege. If we deny your request for access to, or refuse a request to correct, your personal information, we will advise you of the reasons for this refusal.
If you do not want to receive promotional offers, please notify TSI Network by sending an email to email@example.com.
The provision of information by you is entirely voluntary and you have the right not to provide information. Subject to applicable law, you may have the right to receive certain information as to whether or not personal information relating to you is held by TSI Network and to obtain a copy of such information that is sought. You may also have the right to require information, where appropriate, to be erased, blocked or made anonymous or to have data updated or corrected. If you do not wish TSI Network to hold information about you or if you wish to have access to information, modify information, or object to any processing of information or if you have questions please contact us.
What Choices Do I Have?
As discussed, you can always choose not to provide information even though it might be needed to make a purchase or to take advantage of TSI Network features.
You can add or update certain information as explained in the section "How Can I Change My Information?"
If you do not want to receive email or other mail from us, please notify TSI Network by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes to this Policy
This Policy is the sole authorized statement of TSI Network's practices with respect to the collection of personal information through TSI Network's websites and the subsequent use and disclosure of such information. Any summaries of this Policy generated by third party software or otherwise (for example, in connection with the "Platform for Privacy Preferences" or "P3P") shall have no legal effect, are in no way binding upon TSI Network, shall not be relied upon in substitute for this Policy, and neither supersede nor modify this Policy.
TSI Network may revise this Policy from time to time.
Legal Notices and Disclaimers
The contents of this web site and our publications are based upon sources of information believed to be reliable, but no warranty or representation, expressed or implied, is given as to their accuracy or completeness. Any opinion reflects the Successful Investor’s judgment at the date of publication and neither the Successful Investor, nor any of its affiliated companies, nor any of their officers, directors or employees, accepts any responsibility in respect of the information or recommendations contained in the publications or on this web site. Moreover, the information or recommendations are subject to change without notice.
Information presented on this web site or contained in our publications is not an offer, nor a solicitation, to buy or sell any securities referred to on the web site or in the publications. The material is general information intended for recipients who understand the risks associated with an investment in any securities referred to in the publications or on this web site. The Successful Investor has made no determination regarding whether an investment, course of action, or associated risks are suitable for the recipient.
You are trying to access subscribers-only content. If you are already a subscriber, use the form below to log in.
Subscribers will have unlimited access to the magazine that helps people live more sustainable, self-reliant lives, with feature stories on tending the garden, managing the homestead, raising healthy livestock and more!
You are trying to access subscribers-only content. If you are already a subscriber, use the form below to log in.
Subscribers will have unlimited access to the magazine that helps the small-scale poultry enthusiast raise healthy, happy, productive flocks for eggs, meat or fun - from the countryside to the urban homestead!