Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mutual Fund 101


A Mutual Fund is an investment company that pools the funds of many individual and institutional investors to form a massive asset base.   The assets are then entrusted to a full time professional fund manager who develops and maintains a diversified portfolio of security investments.  People who buy shares of a mutual fund are its owners or shareholders.  Their purchases provide the money for a mutual fund to buy securities such as stocks and bonds.  A mutual can make money from its securities investments in two ways: a security can pay dividends and interest to the fund, or a security  can rise in value.  The fund passes any dividends, interest or profits on the sale of its portfolio securities, less fund expenses, to shareholders in the form of distributions. 

Different Funds, Different Features

In the Philippines , there are currently four basic types of mutual funds---stock (also called equity), balanced, bond and money market funds.  Bond funds invest primarily in bonds such as treasury notes issued by the Philippine government and commercial papers issued by reputable companies in the Philippines .  Having a full basket of only fixed-income securities, bond funds provide capital preservation while maintaining a conservative stance in terms of asset allocation.   Like bond funds, money market funds also have a conservative stance since they have a full basket of fixed income funds.  The main difference lies in the term of investments of money market fund investments, which is one year or less.  Equity funds invest primarily in shares of stock issued by Philippine corporations.   The dominance of stock issues within the portfolio positions the fund to attain a more aggressive rate of growth.   Balanced funds invest in both shares of stocks and bonds, thereby accessing the growth potential of stocks tempered with the presence of secure fixed-income instruments.   Professional fund managers create value for shareholders by providing superior yields within controlled risk exposures.   Certainly, expective in both security selection and asset allocation go a long way in ensuring better long-term rewards for mutual fund investors.

At present, there are a total of 22 mutual funds in the country.  Six (6) of these are bond funds, five (5) are equity funds, while the remaining ten (10) are balanced funds while one is a money market fund.


Interest rates can be volatile and passive short-term investing can erode investment values due to inflation.  On the other hand, the stock market has historically outperformed both short and long-term bank deposit rates.  Unfortunately, not so many people are familiar with active financial management and effective diversification. Through mutual funds, even investors with limited resources can participate in combinations of these high-yielding investment instruments without the headache of personally selecting and monitoring a portfolio.

Mutual funds are ideal vehicles for growing money over time.  It can be used as a savings medium for retirement, education for a child, or building up a long-term cash fund for some specific future financial objective.   While largely thought of as a retail financial product, mutual funds are also ideal instruments to augment the yields generated by organizational funds and enhance their level of diversification.  Mutual funds have been popular investments for pension and trust programs, other employee benefit funding objectives, and institutional asset-liability matching.


Mutual funds provide a combination of benefits to investors which cannot be matched by other investment instruments.  These advantages are as follows: 

Professional Management

One of the main attractions of mutual funds is that it affords its investors, particularly the small ones, the services of full-time professional managers whose job is to analyze the various investment products available in the market and select those that would give the best possible returns to the fund and its shareholders. 

Low Capital Requirement

Direct investments usually require substantial capital.  The minimum investment amounts for Treasury Bills and commercial paper, for instance, range from Php100,000 to Php1 million depending on the bank or investment house you are dealing with.  This also holds true for stocks because while an investor may be able to buy one “lot” (shares are sold in board lots of 10 to 1 million shares depending on the price at which these shares are traded)  for as low as Php1,000 to Php5,000, he may not find a stockbroker who will service his account because they prefer to deal with high net worth individuals (rich people in layman's terms) or at least with people who have substantially more than just Php5,000.00 to invest.   In contrast, most mutual funds in the Philippines require a minimum initial investment amount of only Php5,000.00 and minimum additional investments of Php1,000.00. 


There is a saying that goes,  “Do not put all your eggs in one basket.”  This adage is especially true in the world of investments which is full of uncertainties.  There is no such thing as a “sure” thing.  An important investment principle that requires holding several securities to reduce the risks associated with investing in individual securities is called diversification. When people invest in a mutual fund, they achieve instant diversification because the fund is usually invested in a wide array of securities. 


Liquidity is the ability to readily convert investments into cash.  Other investment products require investors to find a buyer so that he can liquidate his investment.  That is not the case with mutual fund shares because the fund itself stands ready to buy back these shares at the prevailing Net Asset Value Per Share.  While the law provides that redemption proceeds must be given within seven (7) banking days from the date of the redemption request, most funds are able to pay the redemption proceeds within a day.  Mutual funds are, therefore, considered very liquid investments. 


Safety is a very important consideration for most investors.  Sometimes even more important than potential returns (well… on second thought, maybe not).  Nevertheless, mutual funds are highly regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Investment Company Act and its implementing rules.  They are prohibited from investing in particular investment products and engaging in certain transactions (this is discussed in greater detail in a latter section).  They also have to submit regular reports to the SEC as well as to their shareholders.  As mentioned earlier, all of the fund's assets must be held by a custodian bank for a safekeeping.

Potential Higher Returns 

Because a mutual fund is managed as a single portfolio, it is able to take advantage of certain economies of scale.  For instance, with its millions under management, it can negotiate for lower stockbrokerage fees or command higher interest rates on fixed-income investments.  In the end, however, it is still the investment adviser who really makes the big difference between making direct investments and investing in mutual funds because very few individual investors can match the experience and skill of full-time professional fund managers. 


In other countries, mutual funds can be purchased directly from a funds or through a broker, financial planner, bank or insurance agent, by mail, over the phone and increasingly over the internet.  The popularity of mutual funds in the Philippines is fast catching up.  It may be a matter of time for this level of convenience to be a reality in the country.  Funds also offer a variety of other services, including monthly or quarterly account statements, tax information, and 24-hour phone and computer access to fund and account information.

Source: ICAP


Ronnie Reyes is a Certified Real Estate Broker (engaged in project selling and general brokerage), Certified Investment Solicitor (licensed to sell mutual funds) and a Chartis Philippines agent (Comprehensive travel, Home, Auto insurance).

For your investment plans and requirements, please contact this Certified Investment Solicitor at the following contact nos. below:

Mobile: 0917-796-2530
Duo:  (02) 975-6731

You may also view his mutual fund portfolio at

Thank you for looking.

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