Diversify with Low Cost Index Mutual Funds and ETFs Only
During the last twenty-five years of the 20th century, mutual fund and exchange traded fund portfolio assembly costs declined dramatically.
Brokerage commissions were deregulated in 1975, and transaction costs have fallen very dramatically since then. Furthermore, well-diversified, low-cost index mutual funds have now become commonplace, while none existed in 1968. The mutual fund industry was still in its relative infancy. For example, there were 361 mutual funds of all kinds in 1970 with only $48 billion in assets. In contrast, at the end of 2006, there were 8,120 U.S. mutual funds of all kinds with $10.4 trillion in assets.1
Now, very low cost index mutual fund and ETF investing is a much more efficient and effective way to achieve full market diversification.
Because investment costs have declined dramatically, higher levels of diversification can be achieved far more cost-effectively through mutual funds and ETFs today. Of course, you need to be very careful to keep the total fund expenses that you pay very low. While a minority of available mutual funds and ETFs have pursued a low cost strategy, one of the primary reasons why the number of funds has grown so phenomenally is that they are very profitable. Unfortunately, this profit to the ETF and mutual fund industry comes at the expense of individual investors, who are ostensibly “shareholders” in these excessively costly investment funds.
For many mutual funds large scale has meant large profits, because savings from these economies of scale have not been passed on to the shareholders of the funds.
This is a very stark example of an industry with what is know as an “agency” problem. When there is an agency problem, the agents of the shareholders do not act in the best interests of the shareholders. In theory, the interests of fund shareholders are supposed to be paramount in mutual funds. In practice, the boards of many mutual funds are not truly independent. Instead, these fund board serve primarily the for-profit interests of the large fund family companies that either employ the investment fund’s trustees or that pay substantial fees for supposedly “independent” outside trustees to sit on the boards of these individual investment funds.
Unfortunately, there are two boards and two sets of shareholders whose interests are in conflict – the board of trustees of each individual mutual fund and the board of directors for the overall fund family company. When the fund family is public and has a strong profit objective, then the interests of their share holders are in conflict with the interests of the shareholders of the individual mutual funds that they promote. In reality, for many mutual funds it seems that the profit interests of the shareholders of the overall fund company dominate and supplant the interests of the shareholders of the individual investment funds.
This is a clear breakdown in corporate governance. Unfortunately, these agency problems are systemic across most of the industry. The only real solution that individual investors have is to patronize only fund companies with very low fees that truly respect their obligations toward individual fund shareholders.
These DIVERSIFICATION articles may also be useful to you:
Personal Financial Planning
- State Street Global Advisors S&P 500 Index Fund (SVSPX) wins the Best +10 Fund Authority Score (The table below in this article presents The Skilled Investor's Fund Authority Score and other information for the SSgA S & P 500 Index Fund (SVSPX). The Skilled Investor has also published an article about lower cost S&P 500 index mutual funds that you can read, which is entitled: Low Cost S&P 500 Index Mutual [...])
- Never Invest Solely Because of Superior Past Investment Fund Performance (
Never invest solely because of superior past mutual fund or ETF performance
Superior past fund performance does NOT predict superior future performance.
Summary: A previous article, “The Solution - ONLY follow financial strategies that are scientific, passive, diversified, savings focused, risk controlled, low cost, and tax efficient,” suggested that individuals are much better off with a [...])
- Lifetime Investment Assets of Renters with Reduced Investment Costs (Lifetime investment assets of renters through investment cost improvements
Improving on Fran and Fred's lifetime financial plan through lower investment costs
Fran and Fred Frugal, both age 30, are a married working couple with $100,000 in combined annual earned income. They want to understand how valuable different personal finance strategies could be to their lifetime finances and [...])
- Avoid Mutual Fund and ETF Sales Commissions and Fees (Avoid mutual funds and ETFs with sales commissions and marketing fees
Summary: There is no convincing evidence that sales loads and other sales fees charged to investors result in higher mutual fund and ETF performance.
In fact, the opposite has repeatedly been proven true with mutual funds, which have a long performance history to evaluate. Paying a [...])
- Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX) achieves a +9 Fund Authority Score (
The diversified investment fund strategy of the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund
According to the Vanguard website, the investment strategy of the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index mutual fund is to use a "passive management—or indexing—investment approach designed to track the performance of the MSCI® US Broad Market Index, which represents 99.5% or more of [...])
- American Funds – Washington Mutual Investors Fund – Class A Shares (AWSHX) acquire a +2 Fund Authority Score (Fund Authority Scores rate mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) on the most important economic factors that influence individual investors' net long term diversified investment fund performance. The Skilled Investor developed the Fund Authority Score system to provide individual investors with concise and objective summaries of mutual funds and ETFs for comparisons within investment [...])
- How to distinguish between true investment skill and luck (
Even if an investor has obtained superior results over an extended period, is this sufficient proof that these investment results were actually due to skill rather than just a lucky streak?
No, these investment results could still be due to chance. For example, take a large population, such as all individual investors in the U.S., and [...])
- Set a Minimum Portfolio Size Threshold for Mutual Funds and ETFs (
Choose mutual funds and ETFs with a minimum economical portfolio size
If you are going to invest in actively managed funds, then you should want them to have a sufficiently large asset base to fund the necessary research.
If an active fund is too small, then fund management quality can suffer or fees could grow. Index funds [...])
- The John Bogle Blog and His Financial Article About ETFs (John C. Bogle's Blog and his article about ETFs
This article is a heads-up to people interested in investment blogs and personal finance blogs.
John C. Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group, Inc., has a blog called The Bogle eBlog. (If you are wondering about "eBlog," it is an anagram of Bogle.) Mr. Bogle just posted [...])
- American Funds – EuroPacific Growth Fund – Class A Shares (AEPGX) get a +2 Fund Authority Score (The diversified investment fund strategy of American Funds' EuroPacific Growth Fund
According to American Funds' Annual Report for the EuroPacific Growth Fund, the fund "seeks long-term capital appreciation by investing primarily in the securities of companies based in Europe and the Pacific Basin." American Fund's 497 filing on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR system [...])
- Dodge and Cox Stock Fund (DODGX) picks up a +8 Fund Authority Score (The table below in this article presents The Skilled Investor's Fund Authority Score and other information for the Dodge and Cox Stock Fund (DODGX).
The diversified investment fund strategy of the Dodge and Cox Stock mutual fund (DODGX)
According to its website and its prospectus filing on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR system, the investment [...])
- American Funds – Income Fund of America – Class A Shares (AMECX) rate a +2 Fund Authority Score (Fund Authority Scores rate mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) on the most important economic factors that influence individual investors' net long term diversified investment fund performance. The Skilled Investor developed the Fund Authority Score system to provide individual investors with concise and objective summaries of mutual funds and ETFs for comparisons within investment [...])
- Fidelity Spartan 500 Index mutual fund (FSMKX) achieves the Best +10 Fund Authority Score (
The Standard & Poors 500 stock index is the most common equity index fund benchmark in the U.S. The S and P 500 tracks about 75% of publicly traded U.S. equity market asset value. The dominant issue in choosing among passively managed index mutual funds and ETF funds benchmarked against the S & P 500 [...])
- Day Trading Is a Terrible Idea (Why Day Trading Is a Terrible Idea
Investing success is built upon the idea of buying an asset at a discounted price, and then holding it for a long period of time as the value of the asset steadily rises due to the expected risk premium inherent in holding your capital in a risky asset. [...])
- Select investments rationally – Step 6 of 10 Financial Planning Steps in the Right Direction (CLICK HERE TO READ THE SKILLED INVESTOR's OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT THESE "10 FINANCIAL PLANNING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Given the extremely large number and variety of available securities, investors need a rational basis to select among them. Without rational selection criteria and a good understanding of which factors are more or less likely to increase [...])
Comments are closed.