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Mutually Rewarding: Mutual Funds

Mutually Rewarding: Mutual Funds

You have some money to invest. There are two ways to go about it - identify the stocks, bonds and similar assets - invest individually and manage them yourself. To do so requires expertise, time and effort. Many such investments also require higher amounts to start.

Or you can invest in mutual funds, which are a pool or 'basket' of funds collected from many investors into stocks, bonds and securities to create a portfolio. Because lot of investors mutually agree to let the expert investĀ into a common pool that has shared or mutual interests, they are called a mutual fund. For a fee, a 'Fund Manager' will invest, manage, monitor, optimize, so you get the best possible returns. As the investments are spread across hundreds and thousands of securities, the risk is comparatively lower (even if one security underperforms), there is an economy of scale and its managed professionally. So, when you buy shares of a mutual fund, you are buying the performance of its portfolio.

Of course, there are many types of mutual funds. On a basic level, there are those that invest in stocks (equity funds), in bonds (fixed-income funds), in stocks and bonds (balanced funds), risk-free rate (money market funds), country-specific, index-based funds, global or specialty (sector based) or commodities. Most mutual funds, which have existed the past 200 years are variations or combinations of the above.

Unlike managing your investments, here as an investor you have lesser control as its done by a Fund Manager. You need to pay a management fee (0.5% to 2% of assets on average) with 'load' and other associated charges. Some are fixed, some are annual or ongoing, and some are performance or transaction based.

What's the best way to pick and start? With thousands of funds available, it is best to choose funds that reflect your investment strategy, risk appetite, ideally a sector you understand, that is compatible with the rest of your portfolio, a fund that's diversified, has solid historical performance, the quality and credentials of the company, managing your fund. It is also important to factor in fees, inflation, tax consequences if any if you are an expatriate, and returns are subject to market risk conditions.

All funds share information in a 'fund prospectus', which includes ratings, fees, strategy, performance with many tools to compare funds online, which makes the decision easier. Mutual funds are easy to buy, sell and redeem - you can do so from the mutual fund directly, Citibank or a financial brokerage.

Citibank UAE, for instance, offers easy access to some of the world's largest and most trusted funds from companies such as Alliance Bernstein, Blackrock, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, Invesco, MFS, Schroder's, Franklin Templeton and Pioneer. Citibank's relationship professionals will also assist in the assessment of your investor profile, knowledge and experience to select the mutual fund that's right for you.

Make it mutually rewarding. Apply for an Investment Account by visiting your nearest Citibank branch or apply online.