Investing a certain portion of your earnings enables you to build wealth over a period of time. Though the investment market is full of investment products, stocks and mutual funds are most widely known and preferred by retail and small time investors.
However, considering the fact that stocks are extremely volatile, you should consider investing in mutual funds rather than investing directly in stocks. Here are few reasons you should consider investing in mutual funds rather than in stocks if you have a low-risk appetite.
No Need to Pick Stocks
Picking the right stock at the right price is one of the critically important factors that determine its success. In the case of mutual funds, a fund manager does this for you. If you are investing directly in stocks, you have to keep track of them, ensure you sell them at the right time and make appropriate allocation in different sectors. This is time-consuming and knowledge intensive exercise. And even if your stock does well, such as Apple or Ford for instance, the stock price could still go down if their future guidance is not right.
That is very frustrating!
Many instances have been found amongst Baby Boomers who invested their money into stocks and never tracked them. Most companies in which money was invested no longer exist. A mutual fund manager, on the other hand, keeps track of all the assets in mutual fund avoiding such situations.
Do not worry, your mutual fund manager will not be Napoleon Dynamite. This person will be a professional and not keep tater tots in his pant’s pockets! That type of behavior does not inspire confidence!
As an individual investor, you pay brokerage charges for buying and selling the stocks, which might be in the range of 0.5-1%. However, a mutual fund or the Asset Management Company that manages the mutual fund, due to economies of scale, pays a minuscule brokerage for trading the stocks. The management fee is all inclusive thus your overall costs of churning the portfolio are barely noticeable.
If you buy and sell stocks within a year, you will be liable to pay short-term capital gains tax which might wipe out profits. Of course, the same situation may be applicable in the case of mutual funds, but there is a difference. For instance, you might have to sell the stock within a short span to book the profits.
So apart from brokerage for trading stocks, you will also end up paying short-term capital gains tax and even with Trump getting the job done and doing things that are long overdue, such as cutting taxes, you still have some taxes to pay. Any time you can save money via taxes is something you should take serious.
A mutual fund, on the other hand, will incur just the trading charges (which are very low), and since your money stays invested in the asset management company, you do not have to pay any capital gains tax. Only if you exit the mutual fund within a year, you will have to pay capital gains tax on the profits made.
Optimized Asset Allocation
A concrete portfolio consists of 25-30 stocks spanning different industries. This requires a significant amount of time and stamina. You should be checking your stocks every day as well; you really do not have to do that with a mutual fund since they own a hundred companies or so and so a mutual fund is not as volatile since the risk is not tied up with one stock but many of them. You may not be in a position to invest that amount of money or time into this craft.
Moreover, it requires in-depth knowledge of stocks to pick the right ones. As you buy units of mutual funds depending on your budget, every unit is equally diversified. This significantly reduces the risk to your portfolio.
However, as the underlying asset for equity-based mutual funds is equities, if the entire market declines, your investment too will decline. A balanced mutual fund which has a mix of stocks and bonds, however, will offer better protection against market volatility as already mentioned. If you are extremely averse to risk, it is also possible to invest in debt mutual funds that offer low but assured returns.
As indicated earlier, you can lose your entire investment in a single stock. That rarely happens in the case of mutual funds since your mutual fund manager is looking after these companies making changes to the asset allocation as per the market conditions and new laws being voted into existence or even ending. He or she will not make the terrible investment decision we saw the main characters make in Horrible Bosses II. Not impressive!
Mutual funds moreover are tightly governed by the SEC. Thus, if you are new to investing, have low risk appetite, and are patient with your investments, mutual fund is the best investment vehicle that suits your profile. It does not mean you should not invest in stocks directly. Do that only if you have the market know-how, can dedicate time towards it, and do not mind taking losses.