Managed funds pool the money of individual investors. The combined capital is invested by a fund manager, in some cases being applied across a range of asset classes such as shares, bonds, property and infrastructure assets.
Managed funds are popular with investors as they make it easy to invest. One transaction can provide access to a range of underlying investments and diversify your investment across different asset classes and market sectors. They also provide access to investments that may otherwise be out of reach.
When you invest in a managed fund, you are issued a number of shares or units in the fund. Each share or unit represents an equal portion of the fund’s value. You may receive regular payments – called dividends or distributions – from the fund, based on the profit or income it receives from the underlying investments.
There are a number of questions that investors may ask before investing in a managed fund or a range/combination of funds to create a portfolio:
What overall return am I looking for?
How much risk am I willing to take on?
Do I want to generate regular income, or am I looking for long-term growth?
What is my investment timeframe?
Am I looking to invest in a specific asset class or market sector?
What is the fund’s track record?
What fees are charged?
Spreading your money across a range of asset classes can decrease your overall risk, as it reduces the impact on your portfolio if one or two of your investments perform poorly.
Managed Funds give you access to a range of markets and assets, both domestic and international.
Managed Funds offer diversification in one trade. For example you can get exposure to all the stocks in the underlying fund of a Managed Fund, which may number several hundred. You pay brokerage on only one transaction.
In contrast, attaining diversification by direct shareholdings can be time-consuming and costly. You pay brokerage on each share purchase, and if your funds are limited, you may end up spreading them too thinly.
Research suggests that your most important investment decision is how you spread your money between asset classes such as:
• Australian shares,
• international shares,
• bonds, and
The way you divide your funds between these asset classes is called asset allocation.
You can use Managed Funds in a number of ways, including:
• instant diversification
• adjust asset allocation.
For example, an Australian shares Managed Fund provides exposure to all the stocks in the underlying fund, giving you instant diversification, no matter how small your investment.
Having your money spread across a range of shares can decrease your overall risk, as it reduces the impact on your portfolio if one or two companies perform poorly.
Adjust asset allocation
Your asset allocation has a significant impact on your investment returns.
From time to time you may want to adjust your asset allocation - for example changing your exposure to fixed income.
Managed Funds enable you to easily adjust your asset allocation, or a class in it, in one transaction - buying Managed Funds to increase your exposure, selling to decrease it.
There are a wide variety of Managed Funds that can provide exposure to the Australian sharemarket. Most of the Managed Funds seek to outperform the return of the relevant index by investing directly in a subset of the securities included in the index or benchmark.
There are also Australian sector Managed Funds. Sector Managed Funds can assist investors to build their portfolios to allow for increased exposure to certain industries e.g. listed property while still achieving a broad diversification across companies. Investors can also access strategy oriented Managed Funds such as a high dividend fund, a value focussed Managed Fund or those with a bias towards large or small capitalisation stocks.
Income earned by the Managed Funds, including franking credits, can be distributed back to investors, most typically on a semi-annual basis.
International Managed Funds can assist investors to diversify into overseas markets whilst also diversifying across companies within those international markets.
International Managed Funds can be single country e.g. China, multi-country within the same region e.g. Europe and multi-region e.g. emerging markets. There are also international sector Managed Funds available that may assist investors access sectors (e.g. healthcare) that are under-represented within the Australian market.
International Managed Funds may or may not be hedged against currency movements and may also include additional taxation requirements. Investors should review the risks associated with international Managed Funds before investing.
Fixed income Managed Funds are issued over a basket of bonds which can be issued by a variety of domestic and international corporates, Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, government treasury corporations and international governments / semi government entities. Typically the underlying fund will have a variety of bonds with varying maturity dates and as one bond matures, it will be replaced by another, to ensure there is sufficient diversity in the portfolio being tracked.
Fixed income Managed Funds can help investors access a more reliable income stream with typically less price volatility than other classes such as shares. This is why investing in this asset class is often referred to as ‘defensive’. Typically a fixed income Managed Fund will distribute the income earned on a quarterly basis.
Balanced Managed Funds are issued over a range of asset classes including Australian and international shares, fixed income, property and cash. Typically the aim of these funds is to provide a mixture of capital growth and/or income over the medium to long term.
Balanced Funds can help investors achieve diversification across asset classes when you have smaller amounts to invest.
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