Sunday, May 14, 2006

In theory...

When it comes to actively managed mutual funds, I'm a little like that emotionally crippled girl you broke up with in college: don't tell me to trust you, and don't you dare tell me it's all going to be OK, because I've been down that road before and I got burned. Burned bad.

As such, I've developed something of an [un]healthy hatred for management fees and expenses being skimmed off the top of my investments. I mean, I don't really need to pay somebody else to lose money for me - I can do that quite easily myself. That predilection for lower fees goes a long way towards explaining my man-crush for ETF's. Ever since I found out about the little beauties, I've been a fan of them not only as a way to easily diversify, but limit my expenses along the way.

Since a few people in my life have gotten the mistaken impression that I somehow know what I'm doing with money, they've started to come to me for advice, and when they do, I generally stick with the tried-and-true "buy low, sell high" or some such platitude.

Still, if they keep me talking, it doesn't take much before I inevitably start extolling the virtues of ETFs. My girlfriend and my sister are two people I often find myself having investing-related conversations with, as both of them have company-sponsored mutual funds through their work, and neither of them has the faintest idea about what they're invested in.

While I love ETFs in general, it's really hard to extol the virtues of how they pay off over the long run when the mutual funds those two have accidentally invested in keep setting the world on fire. The one has 12% growth year-to-date, and the other's not far off that impressive clip. Oh, and neither has anything to do with oil and gas.

I know Moneysense's oft-repeated stat that 80% of all mutual funds don't match the index they track over the long run. But with returns like that in the short term, it's like I'm talking to a wall.

Two very rich walls, actually.

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