Stock Versus Mutual Funds - Safe or Sorry?

By: Paul Hegarty

It seems a little odd to compare stocks to mutual funds. Actually, mutual funds are largely composed of stocks. It is important to make the distinction between the two as there are some very real advantages to using mutual funds.

It is fun to invest in individual stocks because each company has its own story to tell. However, you want to focus on making money! Investing is not a game and should not be taken lightly.

When you invest in mutual funds, you are able to diversify and reduce your risk of losing money. Do you think that those wealthy investors out there just put their money in a couple of stocks? No! Either they are investing in mutual funds or are buying large numbers of stocks.

When you purchase mutual funds, you are hiring a professional manager at a relatively inexpensive price. It would be a little off the wall to think that you have more knowledge than a mutual fund manager! Most managers have been around the track a number of times and have the academic credentials to back up their knowledge.

Mutual fund companies have the advantage of capitalizing on economies of scale because they pool investors' monies together. Since these companies have large amounts of money to invest, they usually have personal contacts at many brokerage firms and often trade commission-free.

Mutual funds are easy to take care of. The bookkeeper is much more challenged when there are hundreds of stocks to keep track of!

Mutual funds are very liquid. Put in your order for money in the morning if you are short on cash, and by the time the market closes you may have a check waiting for you. Stocks, on the other hand, are much more difficult. It all depends upon what you have invested in. CDs are not at all liquid and bonds are difficult as well.

If you are new to investing then mutual funds may be the way to go. You can invest small increments of money at regular intervals and not have to pay a trading cost. If you invest in stocks, you will find that they carry high transaction fees. This makes it quite difficult for the small investor to realize a profit.

If you are a wealthy stock investor, then you have it made because you get preferential treatment from the brokers. Wealthy bank account holders usually get the red carpet treatment from the banks. However, mutual funds do not discriminate. Whether you only have a paltry $50 or a huge sum of $500,000, you all get the same manager, the same investment and the same account access.

Generally speaking, mutual funds have a much lower risk than stocks. This is largely to diversification which was mentioned earlier.
With stocks, there is always the worry that the company you are investing in will go belly up! With mutual funds, that is next to impossible.

As you can see, there are many advantages in investing in mutual funds over stocks. It is not to be said that you should never invest in stocks, but if you are just getting your feet wet with investing it would be best to go with mutual funds!

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