What is a mutual fund?
A mutual fund is an investment vehicle that pools money belonging to many people to invest in a variety stocks, bonds or other securities. Mutual funds are managed by professionals who make the investment decisions for the fund with the goal of increasing the overall fund value. As the assets in the fund rise in value, your share of the fund (typically measured in “units”) will also increase in value. If the value of the fund’s assets decreases, so will the value of your units. Each fund has a written investment goal that helps you decide whether it should have a place in your overall financial plan.
A mutual fund typically focuses on specific types of investments. For example, a fund may invest mainly in government bonds, stocks from large companies or stocks from certain countries. Some funds may invest in a mix of stocks and bonds, or other mutual funds.
You can own mutual funds in registered accounts like RRSPs, RRIFs, RESPs, TFSAs and some pension plans. Depending on your individual circumstances, you can also own corporate class mutual funds, which offer certain tax advantages for non-registered accounts, which are not tax-sheltered like registered accounts. Mutual funds may be generally more suitable for longer-term investors, as the value of securities held by the fund can fluctuate over time and returns are not guaranteed.