- Investment image by Svitlana Boldyryeva from Fotolia.com
Mutual funds are a type of investment in which your money is pooled with the money of others. A mutual fund manager then uses all of that money to buy stocks, bonds or other investments. This allows you to diversify your portfolio, because you are putting your money into an investment that owns many stocks, instead of putting your money into one particular stock or bond. Diversification may be safer, as if one particular stock declines, you will not necessarily lose all the money you have invested. Like most investments, mutual funds have specific reporting requirements so investors can understand how their investment is performing.
- Mutual fund managers are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue quarterly disclosures of the fund's portfolio holdings. Every three months they must tell the government and you, the shareholder, what stocks they are holding, how they are performing and how much of each stock they have, so that you can make informed investment decisions about your mutual fund. By knowing the composition of the holdings, owners of the fund can determine whether the allocation of money in the fund meets their tolerance for risk and helps them to create a portfolio that is balanced overall.
- Mutual fund managers must, in their quarterly reports, offer the fund holding information in a tabular or graphical format. By producing this information in a table or graph, the fund managers are making offering you another way to understand the data about your holdings.
- The fund must include a Management's Discussion of Fund Performance (MDFP) in its annual report to shareholders. This means that the managers of the fund will have to comment on shortcomings in the stocks held, as well as to discuss options they are considering, and how these choices might affect the fund. Typically, the MDFP is included in the fund's prospectus that you can read before you purchase shares of the mutual fund.