Mutual funds can be a convenient, cost-effective way to purchase a variety of securities with a relatively low initial investment.
What is a mutual fund?
A mutual fund is an investment company that pools money from many people and invests it in stocks, bonds, or other securities. Each investor owns shares; each share represents a tiny portion of each individual security held by the fund. An investment professional handles the purchase and sale of individual securities in the fund, based either on an index or on his or her professional expertise. Investors may buy shares (or portions) directly from the fund or through brokers, banks, or financial planning or insurance professionals.
With the majority of mutual funds, when you buy shares, you pay the current net asset value (NAV) (the value of one share in a fund), plus any sales charge (known as a sales load). As with individual stocks, the share price of mutual funds fluctuates and the value of an investment may be more or less than its original cost. Caution: Mutual funds are not guaranteed or insured by any bank or government agency--even mutual funds sold by banks.