Open-ended or open mutual funds are much more common than closed-ended funds and meet the true definition of a mutual fund – a financial intermediary that allows a group of investors to pool their money together to meet an investment objective– to make money! An individual or team of professional money managers manage the pooled assets and choose investments, which create the fund’s portfolio They are established by a fund sponsor, usually a mutual fund company, and valued by the fund company or an outside agent. This means that the fund’s portfolio is valued at "fair market" value, which is the closing market value for listed public securities. An open-ended fund can be freely sold and repurchased by investors.
- Buying and Selling:
Open funds sell and redeem shares at any time directly to shareholders. To make an investment, you purchase a number of shares through a representative, or if you have an account with the investment firm, you can buy online, or send a check. The price you pay per share will be based on the fund’s net asset value as determined by the mutual fund company. Open funds have no time duration, and can be purchased or redeemed at any time, but not on the stock market.
An open fund issues and redeems shares on demand, whenever investors put money into the fund or take it out. Since this happens routinely every day, total assets of the fund grow and shrink as money flows in and out daily. The more investors buy a fund, the more shares there will be. There's no limit to the number of shares the fund can issue. Nor is the value of each individual share affected by the number outstanding, because net asset value is determined solely by the change in prices of the stocks or bonds the fund owns, not the size of the fund itself. Some open-ended funds charge an entry load (i.e., a sales charge), usually a percentage of the net asset value, which is deducted from the amount invested.
Open funds are much more flexible and provide instant liquidity as funds sell shares daily. You will generally get a redemption (sell) request processed promptly, and receive your proceeds by check in 3-4 days. A majority of open mutual funds also allow transferring among various funds of the same “family” without charging any fees.
Open funds range in risk depending on their investment strategies and objectives, but still provide flexibility and the benefit of diversified investments, allowing your assets to be allocated among many different types of holdings. Diversifying your investment is key because your assets are not impacted by the fluctuation price of only one stock. If a stock in the fund drops in value, it may not impact your total investment as another holding in the fund may be up. But, if you have all of your assets in that one stock, and it takes a dive, you’re likely to feel a more considerable loss.
Risk depends on the quality and the kind of portfolio you invest in. One unique risk to open funds is that they may be subject to inflows at one time or sudden redemptions, which leads to a spurt or a fall in the portfolio value, thus affecting your returns. Also, some funds invest in certain sectors or industries in which the value of the in the portfolio can fluctuate due to various market forces, thus affecting the returns of the fund.
Close-ended or closed mutual funds are really financial securities that are traded on the stock market. Similar to a company, a closed-ended fund issues a fixed number of shares in an initial public offering, which trade on an exchange. Share prices are determined not by the total net asset value (NAV), but by investor demand. A sponsor, either a mutual fund company or investment dealer, will raise funds through a process commonly known as underwriting to create a fund with specific investment objectives. The fund retains an investment manager to manage the fund assets in the manner specified.
- Buying and Selling:
Unlike standard mutual funds, you cannot simply mail a check and buy closed fund shares at the calculated net asset value price. Shares are purchased in the open market similar to stocks. Information regarding prices and net asset values are listed on stock exchanges, however, liquidity is very poor. The time to buy closed funds is immediately after they are issued. Often the share price drops below the net asset value, thus selling at a discount. A minimum investment of as much as $5000 may apply, and unlike the more common open funds discussed below, there is typically a five-year commitment.
The prospect of buying closed funds at a discount makes them appealing to experienced investors. The discount is the difference between the market price of the closed-end fund and its total net asset value. As the stocks in the fund increase in value, the discount usually decreases and becomes a premium instead. Savvy investors search for closed-end funds with solid returns that are trading at large discounts and then bet that the gap between the discount and the underlying asset value will close. So one advantage to closed-end funds is that you can still enjoy the benefits of professional investment management and a diversified portfolio of high quality stocks, with the ability to buy at a discount.
Investing in closed-end funds is more appropriate for seasoned investors. Depending on their investment objective and underlying portfolio, closed-ended funds can be fairly volatile, and their value can fluctuate drastically. Shares can trade at a hefty discount and deprive you from realizing the true value of your shares. Since there is no liquidity, investors must buy a fund with a strong portfolio, when units are trading at a good discount, and the stock market is in position to rise.