Mutual Fund Companies
Most mutual fund companies now have Web sites that make their products and services far more accessible. Instead of ordering literature and waiting a week to receive it, in most cases you can call it up on the computer for immediate access.
While mutual fund companies generally stick to selling just mutual funds, many offer an abundance of value-added information, tools, and research that can help make mutual fund investing easier than ever.
Services: All offer real-time quotes, research, fund manager interviews, individual fund profiles, investment information and tools; some offer Web site account access and check-writing privileges.
Products: Mutual funds, ranging from a single offering to a family of dozens of different fund choices.
Payment: Mutual funds make money from one or more of the following:
- Annual administrative fees, generally a minimal flat fee charged for operating the fund.
- Investment fees to compensate the money managers.
- Early surrender charges are sometimes charged if you cash out your investment within the first few years.
- Transfer fees charged when investors transfer assets from one fund to another within the same fund family (used by some, but not all fund companies).
Benefits: If you want to invest solely in mutual funds, many mutual fund families offer a broad spectrum of choices for one-stop shopping, as well as consolidated account statements, quarterly reports, annual reports, and ongoing investor relations newsletters and informational materials.
Disadvantages: If mutual funds represent only one portion of your investment portfolio, you will receive separate statements and other account information when you invest through the mutual fund company. Were you to invest through a brokerage firm, it would consolidate all of your portfolio information in single mailings and easy-to-read account statements.