I’ve been trading and investing in mutual funds for most of my life, and I’ve had some success. Yet I have to admit that mutual funds have some shortcomings as an investment vehicle. I’ll bet you’ve noticed the same things, too …
Limited Liquidity. You can only buy and sell mutual funds at the end of the day. Even worse, you don’t know the price until after you’re already committed. How crazy is that?
Exorbitant Fees. In a stock fund it’s common to pay out 1.5 percent of your hard-earned capital every year to a manager who — to put it kindly — probably isn’t missing any meals. And that doesn’t count the “loads” and “advisory fees” that go to the broker or financial planner who helps you select your funds.
Information Gap. When you buy a mutual fund, you have no idea what you’re getting. Managers are only required to disclose their holdings twice a year, usually with a 30-60 day delay. A few are generous and give out monthly updates. As far as I’m concerned, this is absolutely ridiculous in today’s fast-moving markets.
See the problem?
Mutual funds were a fantastic idea in the beginning, back when it was hard for individual investors to build their own stock portfolios. Like many good ideas, they had their day. Now a new generation is taking the lead. So do you want to stay out front? Then you need to learn about ETFs.
SPY: The First ETF
Back in the 1980s, index investing started becoming popular. More than a few people were doubtful about the ability of mutual fund managers to “beat the market” over long periods of time. And if you can’t beat the market, why not just buy the market?
Back then Vanguard dominated the index fund business. But their funds still had limitations — especially if you wanted to buy and sell frequently. So along came a Spider.