Friday, May 28, 2010

Mutual Funds and Performance Based Fees

Investors talk a good story when it comes to fees. While much of the conversation is begun by those who advocate index funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs are index funds that trade like stocks), the question of fees, how they should be paid and even more importantly, how much is usually based on why they (actively managed mutual funds) charge the rate they do. If mutual fund fees are so important to the investor, why haven’t they pushed harder for performance based fees?
Often referred to as the fulcrum fee, this method of charging the investor based on how well the fund manager actually did has been attempted in the past (and is currently being adopted by the Janus fund family) but has not received much more than a luke warm embrace. Is it because we simply don’t invest the way the wealthy do?
by Paul Petillo, Managing Editor of

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do You Know Where Your Muni Bond Fund is?

The vast majority of us who own municipal bonds, do so inside of a mutual fund.  But munis may be in a bot of trouble with more on the horizon.

We want to believe it simply isn’t so. Municipal bonds or munis, those hometown or home state, often tax exempt debt instruments which are favored among the 
retired, the soon-to-be retired or those looking for a conservative but well-paid return may be facing a little headwind. But truth be told, you should have noticed.

When you buy a municipal bond, you are essentially buying a project believed to be worthwhile for the city, county or state issuing the debt. They are rated in much the same way as a corporate bond is with a single exception worth noting. If a municipality issues a bond and has difficulty paying the coupon, they often simply raise the local tax rate to cover the shortfall. But like all sorts of funding, the increased tax revenue that would pay for the bond payment shortfall is also in short supply.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mutual Fund Fees

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when mutual funds were not highly regarded. They did provide the average investor with the opportunity to purchase their segment of the stock market with the guidance of a fund manager and comfort of knowing that others felt the same way you did. After all, they were giving this fund their money as well.
But not all investors were thrilled with the arrangement and in the day before the internet, the only way you could find out if your fund was charging too much for their services, was to dig. Not all of us were inclined to do so. We were average investors.