In a recent blog post, I discussed how to select the right retirement fund. You may have noticed I also provided data about various mutual funds. Where did I find that information? Are only “Registered Financial Advisors” permitted to get these key figures? Actually, this type of fund data is quite easy to get.
Here is how to research a mutual fund.
Step 1: Find the mutual fund’s five-digit symbol.
To get the symbol, search the mutual fund’s name in a search engine, and you’ll find its symbol. Here is an example:
Step 2: Internet search the five-digit symbol.
I searched VFINX from above. Per the search results below, I can learn about this fund from Vanguard, Morningstar, MarketWatch, or Yahoo.
Step 3: Select an independent, reputable research firm.
In the list above, I selected Morningstar — an excellent fund research company. In the future, I could now go directly to Morningstar to research other funds. The first page on the Morningstar site offered this data without requiring my registration:
I can view and research basic information without having “registered” access. For example, I learn the fund only costs 0.14% per year, which is a low fee. (If I invest $10,000, the annual fee only costs $14 per year.) The fund has $493.9 billion in assets — so if you invested, you’d be in good company. That’s huge! I also learn the minimum investment required is $3,000.
If I register for free on the Morningstar website with my email address, I can get lots of additional research by selecting from the top navigation above (i.e., Fund Analysis, Performance, Risk, Price, etc.). Most of this content is provided without paying Morningstar any money.
Here is some sample content from Morningstar:
As you can see, the analyst offers his opinion about how the fund performs and if it meets its objectives.
You can learn more about the mutual fund’s portfolio to make sure you understand what specifically it invests in. As you can see below, 23.49% of this mutual fund’s portfolio is exposed to technology; therefore, if you aren’t optimistic about that sector, perhaps you should choose another fund with lower exposure.
I’m not saying you should understand every data detail that Morningstar or other research firms provide. In fact, it is normal to not understand it all. Instead, learn gradually. If you see a word you don’t understand, go to https://www.investopedia.com and look it up. Or, learn what you can.