5 Tips on Comparing Mutual Fund Quotes

When you are comparing mutual fund quotes, there is a tendency to get caught up in the number. Statistics can be telling, and it is important to think about things like standard deviations or beta. However, you need to think about the big picture and not only focus on the small factors, in order to best determine the value of your purchase at any given time.

#1 Set Goals First

You cannot pick the right choice if you do not know what you are looking to do. You need to have your goals set. For example, is your goal to grow steady income? Is your goal to build wealth quickly? How much risk are you comfortable taking in order to meet your goals? Are you passionate about investing in one area of the economy? All of these should be answered in the initial steps of considering your investment approach.

#2 Compare Quotes Over Time

Looking at quotes today will not give you a very good idea of the future performance of a fund. Historical reporting data is a better indicator. Start by evaluating the history of a fund to see if the current figures are consistent or have varied over the past three to five years. The more stable the fund has been, the more stable it is likely to be in the future. On the other hand, constant growth funds with high stability may also be overpriced.

#3 Use Relative Returns

Thinking about a mutual fund in a bubble is like asking how much a shirt should cost. What type of shirt is it? What materials is it made of? Where will you be wearing it? These factors are important to price, so you will compare the shirt to others of its type instead of just looking at it on its own. Do the same with a mutual fund. Compare its price and returns relative to benchmarks you are familiar with, such as government bonds or the S&P 500, to understand the fund's pace in the market.

#4 Consider Talent

There are some intangible assets to a fund that cannot be described with numbers alone. If you are loyal to a particular fund manager, you may move with them to a new fund, even if that fund has been historically low performing. You may find your current manager, though they may post good returns, lack a consistent style that matches your priorities. The manager of a fund is the ultimate decider of where your money goes and when it goes there, so you should consider talent when you are comparing fund quotes.

#5 Pay Attention to the Climate

Mutual funds that perform well in bull markets may not hold their value in bear markets and visa versa. You should always consider what is going on with the economy as a whole when you purchase a fund, and you may need to adjust your goals for the fund accordingly. Think about your priorities in the short-term and long-term against where the economy stands at the time of your purchase to truly prioritize the funds that will best serve your purpose.

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