Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mutual fund companies should be ashamed of themselves

Alternate title: Why I'm an idiot

Prepare yourself, gentle reader, for a shock. I'm about to show you the performance chart of what, for all intents and purposes, is the worst mutual fund in the history of the known universe:

That blood-curdling scream you just heard was me, after I realized I own this turkey and subsequently jammed a spoon into my eye. See the massive spike in 1999? I missed that. See the parabolic peak in 2000? That's when I bought. See the widowmaking ski-hill slope that was the year 2001? I got all of that, and then some. Astute readers will note the complete and absence of activity in either direction since then.

Perhaps a little back story is in order. This particular affront to wealth management was a gift from my dear old dad. He put $1000 into an RRSP in my name before I was wise enough to care about such things, and he decided to put the lot into something called an "e-business specialty fund". I can't remember the specific time frame, but as far as I can tell, this chain of events was set in motion about 14 seconds before the tech bubble burst in 2000.

But wait, there's more. Not only is my $1000 now worth something in the neighbourhood of $180, but thanks to a fat 3% MER, I'm actually paying the fund company more than five bucks a year for the privilege. My favourite part? The company describes the fund as "extremely volatile" which amuses me to no end -- I mean, it not volatile. It was volatile for about two years. But it's been a model of consistency since about 2003. Consistently flat, that is.

I can already hear your howls of protest about why holding on to an expensive, underperforming mutual fund like this goes against everything I stand for. But honestly? I can't bring myself to sell it. I mean, how do you even cash out $180 worth of mutual funds? From where I stand, I can actually see an advantage to keeping it -- forcing the fund company to spend money to send me quarterly reports until the end of time seems like a suitable punishment for their crimes.

All jokes aside, I do plan on divesting the fund as soon as I can get around to it. But I might just hold on to it and conduct some sort of perverse psychological experiment, where I can open up my portfolio statement in 50 years time and see that my $1000 investment is finally worth $800 again. Just don't you dare mention the word "inflation" to me.


Investoid said...

I've held losers too - it can be hard to accept you've made a mistake and move on. It's probably the toughest part of having an investor mindset.

Thicken My Wallet said...

My worst investing mistake was investing into a high tech fund at about the same time. To use an analogy,I would pull the band-aid off quickly rather than slowly.

FourPillars said...

Funny post.

My big losers are in the LSIF category which I would have no problem selling except that I would have to pay the original tax credit back which is now 1/3 of the value of the holdings.

Once the 'holding period' is over then they are GONE!

Great blog by the way - I'm going to add u to my reader & blogroll.