Disadvantages Of Mutual Funds

Liquidity, diversification, and professional management, all these factors make mutual funds attractive options for a younger, novice, and other individual investors who don’t want to actively manage their money. However, no asset is perfect, and mutual funds have drawbacks too.

Fluctuating Returns

Like many other investments without a guaranteed return, there is always the possibility that the value of your mutual fund will depreciate. Equity mutual funds experience price fluctuations, along with the stocks that make up the fund. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) does not back up mutual fund investments, and there is no guarantee of performance with any fund. Of course, almost every investment carries risk. It is especially important for investors in money market funds to know that, unlike their bank counterparts, these will not be insured by the FDIC.

Fixed-Income Funds

Another big group is the fixed income category. A fixed income mutual fund focuses on investments that pay a set rate of return, such as government bonds, corporate bonds, or other debt instruments. The idea is that the fund portfolio generates interest income, which then passes on to shareholders.

Sometimes referred to as bond funds, these funds are often actively managed and seek to buy relatively undervalued bonds in order to sell them at a profit. These mutual funds are likely to pay higher returns than certificates of deposit and money market investments, but bond funds aren’t without risk. Because there are many different types of bonds, bond funds can vary dramatically depending on where they invest. For example, a fund specializing in high-yield junk bonds is much riskier than a fund that invests in government securities. Furthermore, nearly all bond funds are subject to interest rate risk, which means that if rates go up the value of the fund goes down.

Active Fund Management

Many investors debate whether or not the professionals are any better than you or I at picking stocks. Management is by no means infallible, and, even if the fund loses money, the manager still gets paid. Actively managed funds incur higher fees, but increasingly passive index funds have gained popularity. These funds track an index such as the S&P 500 and are much less costly to hold. Actively managed funds over several time periods have failed to outperform their benchmark indices, especially after accounting for taxes and fees.

Lack of Liquidity

A mutual fund allows you to request that your shares be converted into cash at any time, however, unlike stock that trades throughout the day, many mutual fund redemptions take place only at the end of each trading day.

Taxes

When a fund manager sells a security, a capital-gains tax is triggered. Investors who are concerned about the impact of taxes need to keep those concerns in mind when investing in mutual funds. Taxes can be mitigated by investing in tax-sensitive funds or by holding non-tax sensitive mutual fund in a tax-deferredaccount.