Some investors are highly active and enjoy researching and choosing their own individual shares, bonds and other investments. However, it takes time and discipline to monitor the stock market in detail and react appropriately to company news.
Collective funds such as unit trusts and investment trusts can offer a convenient solution. These spread your investment – and risk – across dozens of different companies and are either managed by a professional fund manager (in the case of ‘active’ funds) or designed to simply track a particular index (in the case of ‘passive’ funds or ‘trackers’). While it can be a challenge to devote enough time to monitoring a portfolio of individual shares, it’s a lot easier to keep tabs on a few funds.
Diversification – spreading a portfolio among various assets – can be time consuming and expensive with individual shares. An equity fund manager typically selects a range, usually 50 to 100, which means less reliance on the performance of any one company. The same applies to other asset types such as bonds; each comes with a level of risk that can be partially mitigated through not having all your eggs in one basket.
Gain a manager’s expertise
Managers of ‘active’ funds decide when to buy and sell stocks in the portfolio. Investing with an experienced fund manager takes away a lot of the hard work. You gain the expertise of professionals with an established investment process in their respective area.
Fund managers often engage directly with company management and typically analyse a business thoroughly to understand whether its shares represent good value. Although they can and do make mistakes, they can also sometimes keep you from the major pitfalls. The best managers have the potential to outperform the market, though they won’t get it right every time and all investments can fall in value as well as rise.
Invest across multiple asset classes with ease
Using funds means you can easily invest across a range of asset classes, which can help reduce portfolio volatility (the extents of ups and downs) while still aiming to generate decent returns. Alongside equity and bond funds there are more specialist investments in areas such as property, infrastructure assets or commodities.
Unit Trusts and OEICS are categorised by the Investment Association (IA) into around 30 different sectors, which defines the areas in which they can invest. This means investors can easily identify funds that might meet their needs and compare them with each other.
If you already have some ideas on where to invest but need some help choosing individual funds then our Foundation Fundlist can help. Our Research Team has created the list to highlight what we consider to be good-quality investments in each of the major investment areas. It’s also possible to invest in individual funds that provide diversification across a range of asset classes rather than within a certain area through’ multi-manager’ and ‘multi-asset’ funds.
Costs can be lower
By pooling your money with other investors you could save money compared to building a portfolio of individual shares in terms of transaction costs, especially for modest-sized portfolios.
Passive funds, which simply aim to provide performance similar to a particular index such as the FTSE 100, are generally cheaper than active ones, but will not outperform the market they are designed to follow in the longer term. There is a range of passive fund options that we believe offer excellent value on the Charles Stanley Direct Foundation Fundlist.
This article is not personal advice based on your circumstances. No news or research item is a personal recommendation to deal. Investors should be aware that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results and that the price of shares and other investments, and the income derived from them, may fall as well as rise and the amount realised may be less than the original sum invested. Investment decisions in fund and other collective investments should only be made after reading the Key Investor Information Document or Key Information Document, Supplemental Information Document and/or Prospectus. If you are unsure of the suitability of your investment please seek professional advice.