What are mutual funds? A guide for the beginner investor

Mutual funds are popular among investors as they are expansive – some mutual funds may even hold thousands of different assets

What are mutual funds? A guide for the beginner investor

Every one of us aspires to be financially independent. That is why many of us always think of investments in the hopes of multiplying our hard-earned money. There is an investment option that can achieve any financial goal: mutual funds. This investment tool comes with great benefits, and it’s important to know how mutual funds work.

Read on to know all about mutual funds, how to invest in them and how they can help you achieve your goal of financial independence.

What are mutual funds and how do they work?

A mutual fund is an investment that acquires money from multiple investors into one pile. The fund manager then invests the money in various assets such as stocks, indexes, bonds, and even real estate.

Mutual funds are popular among investors. Some mutual funds may hold thousands of different assets which are then diversified to significantly reduce risks.

In addition, mutual funds provide a single comprehensive investment option. No need for extensive study and specific choices about which assets to include in a portfolio. It is extremely liquid as well. Mutual fund shares are simple to purchase and redeem.

But how do mutual funds work? Mutual means that the fund's profits and losses are shared with the other investors.

When numerous individuals invest in a mutual fund using an asset management company (AMC), the AMC combines all of their funds collectively and creates a substantial sum to invest in a wide portfolio of bonds and stocks funds.

The fund manager then defines the aims of the mutual fund, oversees its stakes, and creates capital gains from the assets. Fund management can then disperse earnings to members or reinvest them, based on the fund's strategy and existing economic circumstances.

How to choose a mutual fund

Choosing which fund to invest in might be difficult because there are so many possibilities out there. The first thing to evaluate is if the goal of investments of a fund are compatible with your long-term financial goals.

Investing in a low-cost index fund may be an appealing alternative for new investors.

For many skilled investors or those wishing to make investments in an actively managed fund, patience and further research are a must. You should be aware of a fund's overall approach and investing philosophy, as well as the portfolio managers who will make investment choices on your behalf.

In addition, as an investor, you should strive to understand the determinants of a fund's long-term viability and if that trend will be projected to keep occurring in the years to come.

Finally, as an investor, you need to understand the factors that influence a fund's sustainability over time and whether that trend is expected to continue in the future. You should also examine the fees connected with purchasing fund shares. Always keep in mind that if two funds have the same performance in investments, the one with lower costs will benefit their investors more.

Why choose mutual funds?

Choosing to invest in mutual funds can be done for a number of different reasons. Mutual funds are instruments for investment that aggregate money from various individuals to make investments in a diverse portfolio of stocks, bonds, and other securities. Here are some of the most common reasons why people choose mutual funds:


Mutual funds have built-in diversification. This means your money is spread over a variety of assets. It helps distribute risk and lessens the effects of a single investment's bad performance.

Professional management

Mutual funds are handled by experienced managers who are experts in investment selection and management. They conduct research and analysis on securities in order to make accurate choices that may result in higher returns.

Access to various asset classes

Mutual funds enable investors to have exposure to a wide range of asset classes, including stocks and bonds without having to acquire each instrument independently.


Because many mutual funds have affordable start-up capital demands, they are easily accessible to a wide range of investors. This can be particularly beneficial for people who intend to commence investing with a small quantity of funds.


Mutual funds are often liquid investments – they can be bought or sold on any business day. This allows investors to access their funds whenever they need to.


Administrative duties such as record-keeping and transaction processing are handled by mutual funds. The ease of handling investments could be intriguing to investors who want a hands-off approach to investment management.

Oversight and regulation

Government agencies oversee mutual funds to promote accountability, safety for investors, and compliance with specific criteria.

Choice and flexibility

Mutual funds are accessible in a wide range of investing objectives, risk limitations, and time horizons. It enables investors to select funds that correspond to their personal interests.

Systematic investing

Mutual funds provide systematic investment alternatives, such as automated investment schemes and dividend reinvestment, that can help individuals grow wealth over time by investing lesser amounts on a consistent basis.

Tax effectiveness

Certain mutual fund investments are tax-efficient, reducing the tax effect on returns on investments utilizing tactics such as tax-loss harvesting.

Despite these advantages, it is important to understand that mutual funds might have drawbacks, such as management fees and risk associated with the market.

Before investing in mutual funds, consider the goals you have and willingness to take risks. Consult with a financial professional to determine whether mutual funds fit into your overall financial strategy.

Factors that affect investment in mutual funds

A mutual fund's operation is aided by four crucial characteristics:

NAV (Net Asset Value)

The net asset value (NAV) of a mutual fund determines its overall cost. It is a numerical figure assigned to mutual funds that represents the cost of one unit of the mutual fund.

The NAV is computed by dividing the mutual fund's total cash value after deducting all charges and liabilities by the overall amount of mutual fund shares.

Since the market value of securities fluctuates every day, so does this net asset value. The net asset value of a mutual fund signals whether it operates adequately or poorly.

Fund Manager

They are responsible for the mutual fund's success. Fund managers have real-time access to critical data on markets that nobody else has. They conduct trades on the broadest and most cost-effective scale possible by closely monitoring the companies in which they have invested.

Assets Under Management (AUM)

Mutual funds use the money received from investors to invest in assets such as bonds, stocks, and other securities. Assets under management (AUM) also refers to the total value of all assets purchased by a mutual fund.

Investment goal

The way taken to invest is determined by the agenda behind the investment. Each mutual fund has a goal that it wants to achieve for its investors. This may involve capital appreciation, long-term earnings, or regular fixed income as dividends.

Before choosing a Mutual Fund, assess these objectives and match them with your own.

Why should you consider investing in a mutual fund?

If the fund's purpose suits your financial needs, you might think about investing in it. A fund that invests mostly in stocks is not going to be appropriate if you anticipate that you will require a certain amount in a year.

Also, a bond fund is not going to be the best option if you are seeking a fund that will help you fulfill long-term objectives for retiring in years to come.

Before investing, study the description of a fund to understand how your funds will be placed. Decide if these funds will help achieve your goals in life.

How do I make money from mutual funds?

There are three ways to profit from mutual funds:

  1. The dividends on stocks and interest on bonds provide earnings. A mutual fund pays out nearly every cent of its net income throughout the course of the year.
  2. A growth in the value of securities, commonly referred to as a capital gain. Most funds pass on their earnings to their investors.
  3. The value of the fund's shares rises. This happens when the worth of the assets held by a fund increases. Afterwards, you can then profitably sell your stock.

Once your investment gains profit, you are usually given the option of receiving a cheque or reinvesting the gains to receive new units.

Can I withdraw money from a mutual fund anytime?

Mutual funds have become a popular choice for those who want to invest in the stock market without actively purchasing or managing stocks. The most often asked issue is if mutual funds can be withdrawn at any moment.

The answer is yes, but there are several considerations to make before withdrawing your mutual funds. Also, specific mutual funds cannot be withdrawn after a certain period.

Open-end investments can be redeemed at any given moment. Yet, investments in the Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS) are subject to certain boundaries, as they have a three-year lock-in time frame starting with the date of investment.

Mutual funds are liquid assets. You can cash out your capital at any moment if you invest in open-ended schemes, whether equities or debt. There are also no limitations.

Are mutual funds a good investment?

Mutual funds are often seen as risk-free investments. However, they can be seen as a poor investment when certain negative features are seen as relevant by investors. Some of these features are:

  • excessive expense ratios imposed by the fund
  • differing hidden front-end and back-end load charges
  • insufficient influence over investment decisions
  • degraded earnings

What to prepare before doing mutual funds?

Learn the fundamentals

Start by learning about mutual fund investments. A mutual fund is a collection of money from several investors that is overseen by an experienced fund manager. This money is invested by the fund manager in a diverse portfolio of stocks, bonds, and other instruments.

Set investment goals and identify potential risk level

Determine your investment goals, whether they are short-term (like saving for a vacation) or long-term (like retirement planning). Your objectives will guide you in choosing the best mutual funds to invest in.

 In addition, think about how much risk you are willing to take. Different mutual funds carry varying amounts of risk, and you must choose funds that match your risk level.

Choose the most suitable funds

Mutual funds are classified according to asset class, investment strategy, and risk profile. Evaluate several funds and their past performance to find ones that meet your objectives and risk tolerance.

Research fund houses and managers

Learn about mutual fund companies, also known as fund houses, and the fund managers who oversee the funds that are important to you. A well-managed firm has an excellent record of performance and skilled administration.

Start an investment account

Create a brokerage account or a mutual fund-specific financial institution account to invest in mutual funds. It might include a typical brokerage account, an internet investment platform, or even the mutual fund business directly.

Keep track of your investments

Maintain a close check on your investments to guarantee they are in line with your objectives. If essential, rebalance your portfolio to preserve your preferred asset allocation.

Understand costs and fees

Fees for mutual funds include management fees, cost ratios, and sales loads. These expenses can have an impact on your overall profits. Pick funds with acceptable fees that do not take up too much of your profits.

Be updated and stay informed

Keep up to date on market trends, economic conditions, and any adjustments in your mutual funds of choice. Staying informed can help you make sound investment decisions.

Should a beginner invest in mutual funds?

Mutual funds can make sense for a variety of individuals at various stages of their financial journey. Keep in mind that it is not the mutual fund itself that determines the investment, instead of what enters the mutual fund.

These funds may invest in bonds, stocks, commodities, or an array of asset types. Whenever investing in a fund, do your homework and ensure you understand the risk of the fund's assets.

In the end, whether you are a new or an expert investor, mutual funds are suitable for you. However, as an investor, it is your responsibility to conduct your study before purchasing any mutual fund.

Other type of mutual fund is called "Toronto Dominion" or TD mutual fund. Learn more about this fund and what makes it different here.

Read the latest mutual fund news right here on Wealth Professional for more insight, and consider subscribing to our newsletter to get the latest info.