All funds carry some level of risk. With mutual funds, you may lose some or all of the money you invest because the securities held by a fund can go down in value. Dividends or interest payments may also change as market conditions change.
As with any business, running a mutual fund involves costs. Funds pass along these costs to investors by charging fees and expenses. Fees and expenses vary from fund to fund. A fund with high costs must perform better than a low-cost fund to generate the same returns for you.
It takes only minutes to use a mutual fund cost calculator to compute how the costs of different mutual funds add up over time and eat into your returns. See Mutual Fees and Expenses to learn about some of the most common mutual fund fees and expenses.
Before you begin executing your sector investing strategy, it's important to understand the differences between how mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and stocks trade. The table below summarizes the topics reviewed in this article. Read on to learn more.
Mutual funds are professionally managed portfolios that pool money from multiple investors to buy shares of stocks, bonds, or other securities. Most mutual funds require a minimum initial investment, although there is an increasing proliferation of no minimum required investment funds.
When you buy or redeem a mutual fund, you are transacting directly with the fund, whereas with ETFs and stocks, you are trading on the secondary market. Unlike stocks and ETFs, mutual funds trade only once per day, after the markets close at 4 p.m. ET. If you enter a trade to buy or sell shares of a mutual fund, your trade will be executed at the next available net asset value, which is calculated after the market closes and typically posted by 6 p.m. ET. This price may be higher or lower than the previous day's closing NAV.
Some equity and bond funds settle on the next business day, while other funds may take up to 3 business days to settle. If you exchange shares of one fund for another fund within the same fund family, the trade will usually settle on the next business day.
Mutual fund trades may be subject to a variety of charges and fees. Some funds carry a sales charge or load, which are fees you pay to buy or sell shares in the fund, similar to paying a commission on a stock trade. These can be in the form of upfront payments (front-end load) or fees you pay when you sell shares (contingent deferred sales charge).
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and stocks may be more suitable for investors who plan to trade more actively, rather than buying and holding for the long term. ETFs are structured like mutual funds, in that they hold a basket of individual securities. Like index funds, passively managed ETFs seek to track the performance of a benchmark index, while actively managed ETFs seek to outperform a benchmark index.
There are no restrictions on how often you can buy and sell stocks or ETFs. You can invest as little as $1 with fractional shares, there is no minimum investment and you can execute trades throughout the day, rather than waiting for the NAV to be calculated at the end of the trading day.
Unlike mutual funds, prices for ETFs and stocks fluctuate continuously throughout the day. These prices are displayed as the bid (the price someone is willing to pay for your shares) and the ask (the price at which someone is willing to sell you shares). So while ETFs and stocks have bid-ask spreads, mutual funds do not. It's also important to note that ETFs may trade at a premium or discount to the net asset value of the underlying assets.
As stated earlier, ETFs, like stocks, are trading on the secondary market. When buying or selling ETFs and stocks, you can use a variety of order types, including market orders (an order to buy or sell at the next available price) or limit orders (an order to buy or sell shares at a maximum or minimum price you set). You can place stop loss orders and stop limit orders, as well as "immediate or cancel," "fill or kill," "all or none," "good 'til canceled," and several other types of orders. You can also execute short sales.
Trading for stocks and ETFs closes at 4 p.m. ET, but unlike with mutual funds, you can continue trading stocks and ETFs in the after-hours market. However , only the most experienced traders may want to consider after-hours trading, as the difference between the price at which you sell (the bid) and the price at which you buy (the ask), tends to be wider after hours and there are fewer shares traded.
Mutual funds are one of the most popular investments, offering many benefits to investors. But buying and selling mutual funds can be confusing, especially for new investors. There are thousands of funds to choose from, several different fees to consider, and mutual funds trade differently from other popular securities such as stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Mutual funds can be bought through an online broker or directly through the company managing the fund. Most mutual funds require a minimum investment of a few thousand dollars, whereas many stocks and ETFs can be purchased for the cost of a single share, or even less if your broker offers fractional shares trading.
Stock funds are great for long-term goals such as retirement or college savings, while bond or money market funds are best for short-term goals such as saving for a down payment on a house or buying a car.
Index funds are one of the most popular investments because of their low costs and diversification benefits. Index funds hold stocks or bonds that are included in market indices such as the S&P 500 or the Russell 2000. The funds are managed based on the underlying index, so there is no expensive portfolio manager or team of analysts making investment decisions. Index funds have outperformed most actively managed funds over time.
These fees are typically charged if you buy and sell shares in the fund within 30 days and can run up to 2 percent of the sale price. Unlike the sales load, which goes to a broker selling the fund, the redemption fee goes directly to the fund. A fund might also prevent you from trading its shares for a period of time if you redeem early.
A type of investment that pools shareholder money and invests it in a variety of securities. Each investor owns shares of the fund and can buy or sell these shares at any time. Mutual funds are typically more diversified, low-cost, and convenient than investing in individual securities, and they're professionally managed.
The annual operating expenses of a mutual fund or ETF (exchange-traded fund), expressed as a percentage of the fund's average net assets. It's calculated annually and removed from the fund's earnings before they're distributed to investors, directly reducing investors' returns. For example, if you had $10,000 invested in a fund with an expense ratio of 0.20%, you'd pay about $20 a year out of your investment returns.
A sales fee charged on the purchase or sale of some mutual fund shares. The load may be called a charge or commission. The fee may be a onetime charge when you buy fund shares (front-end load), or when you sell fund shares (back-end load), or it may be an annual 12b-1 fee charged for marketing and distribution activities.
If we receive your request to buy or sell a fund before the close of regular trading hours on the New York Stock Exchange (usually 4 p.m., Eastern time), your transaction will receive that day's closing price.
Unlike Vanguard mutual funds, the cutoff for other companies' funds varies by fund. You can find the cutoff time by clicking the fund's name as you place a trade. Orders received after this deadline will execute at the following business day's closing.
The difference between the sale price of an asset (such as a mutual fund, stock, or bond) and the original cost of the asset. A capital gain/loss is "unrealized" until the investment is sold, when it becomes a realized gain/loss. Realized gains are taxable and they may be considered short-term (if the investment was owned one year or less) or long-term (if the investment was owned for more than one year).
The distribution of the interest or income produced by a mutual fund's holdings to the fund's shareholders, or a payment of cash or stock from a company's earnings to each stockholder. Dividends can be distributed monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually.
Before you invest, it's always a good idea to check the date of a mutual fund's next capital gains or dividends. If the payout is near, you may want to hold off investing to avoid "buying the dividend."
Vanguard Brokerage and the fund families whose funds can be traded through Vanguard Brokerage place certain limits on frequent transactions and reserve the right to decline a transaction if it appears you're engaging in frequent trading or market-timing.
Some funds charge a fee when you buy shares to offset the cost of certain securities. Some funds charge a fee when you sell fund shares, or when you buy or sell shares within a specific time period. These restrictions are an effort to discourage short-term trading.
For more information about Vanguard mutual funds and ETFs, visit Vanguard mutual fund prospectuses or Vanguard ETF prospectuses to obtain a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information are contained in the prospectus; read and consider it carefully before investing.
*Vanguard average mutual fund expense ratio: 0.10%. Industry average mutual fund expense ratio: 0.55%. All averages are asset-weighted. Industry average excludes Vanguard. Sources: Vanguard and Morningstar, Inc., as of December 31, 2021.
Vanguard ETF Shares are not redeemable with the issuing Fund other than in very large aggregations worth millions of dollars. Instead, investors must buy and sell Vanguard ETF Shares in the secondary market and hold those shares in a brokerage account. In doing so, the investor may incur brokerage commissions and may pay more than net asset value when buying and receive less than net asset value when selling. 781b155fdc