How to select a Mutual Fund

One of the most common ways of selecting a mutual fund is to invest with the crowd in today's hot funds. Unfortunately, jumping from one winning fund to another is a recipe for disaster. The mutual funds that the crowd follows typically have had a hot recent performance and tend to gather all the new mutual fund sales.

Investors as a whole are primarily allocating their new investments to a small number of mutual funds and to a smaller number of mutual fund companies. Investors have invested over $400 billion in the 2843 different mutual funds, but one-third of those assets are invested in only 50 of those funds and one-half of those assets are invested in the largest 100 funds.

There are benefits to following the market leaders. Larger mutual fund companies and larger funds have the ability to reduce costs and attract the best professional money managers. However, the biggest limitation is that today's better-selling mutual fund may not be tomorrow's winner. This is true for any mutual fund but it seems to plague the best seller, and the one that garners the most attention, the most often.

So buying the equity fund that was yesterday's best-seller isn't a strategy that produces excellent returns. You do not have to go fully in the opposite direction and ignore these hot funds, but you should understand their limitations and strengths. They became best-selling funds because they have merit, but you have to access that merit within your own well-diversified portfolio, and not the crowd's current investment trend.

Going global through mutual funds

There are more than 13500 different publicly traded companies in the world today, and there are over 700 more companies expected to go public within a year. In addition, every major developed country offers investors various bonds to invest in. All of this makes for a lot of different investments and plenty of choice. Investors can take advantage of this choice through a good global balanced fund that invests in bonds and stocks or a global equity fund that invests in stocks all around the world.

A global equity fund invests in stock markets around the world. These funds will have a portion of their investments invested in North America. Europe, and Asia. Some of these funds will own hundreds of securities in order to participate in the growth prospects of many firms while diversifying the risk associated with investing in different companies. A good global equity fund will be a foundation for a well-diversified mutual fund portfolio for almost any investor. Investors could consider including the AGF International Value Fund, the BPI Global Equity Fund, or the Fidelity International Portfolio Fund in their portfolios.

A global balanced fund is a fund that invests in both stock and bond markets around the world. These funds will also always have a portion of their investments invested in stock and bond markets located in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are more conservative than global equity funds because they invest in a combination of stocks and bonds, which affect the fund's performance. Over the long term these funds will provide a lower rate of return for investors but they will also exhibit a lot less risk than a global equity fund. They exhibit less risk because bonds are less volatile than stocks; they do not decline in value to the same magnitude or at the same time as global equity funds. A conservative investor should find a good global balanced fund that will serve as a good foundation for a diversified portfolio.