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Are Mutual Fund Names Misleading?

By
Steve Hartel, MBA, AIF®
March 19, 2018
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In 2001, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a new rule to supposedly prohibit mutual fund names that may mislead investors about a fund’s investments and risks. The rule required a fund with a name suggesting that the fund focuses on a particular type of investment (e.g., “stocks” or “bonds”) to invest at least 80% of its assets accordingly. Previously, funds were subject to a 65% investment requirement.

This rule resulted in many funds changing their names, changing their investments, or both. In general, things are better now than they were before the 2001 rule. However, today’s mutual fund names and categories can still be confusing and/or misleading.

Blurred Boundaries

For example, let’s look at names that connote where the fund buys its investments. These names usually contain words like “Domestic,” “International,” “Global,” and “World.” Imagine a Domestic Large-Cap fund, whose name suggests it buys large, U.S. companies. But if the fund owns mostly companies in the S&P 500 Index, those companies might be generating up to 50% of their revenues outside of the U.S. The large multinational firm might be based in the U.S. but do business in countries all around the world. The opposite may be true of funds with “Global” or “World” in their name; those companies based in foreign countries may be deriving some or all of their revenue from dealings with the U.S.

Undefined Jargon

Another confusing category of funds is called “smart beta”. Investopedia defines Beta this way1:

“Beta is a measure of the volatility, or systematic risk, of a security or a portfolio in comparison to the market as a whole. Beta is used in the capital asset pricing model (CAPM), which calculates the expected return of an asset based on its beta and expected market returns.”

Got that? Let’s assume you totally understand beta and CAPM. So, what is “smart” beta? If beta is a measure of volatility, then a reasonable person might assume that “smart beta” is a more intelligent measure of volatility, right? Let’s see if the definition of smart beta contains the word “volatility.”

Investopedia defines smart beta this way2:

The goal of smart beta is to obtain alpha, lower risk or increase diversification at a cost lower than traditional active management and marginally higher than straight index investing. It seeks the best construction of an optimally diversified portfolio. In effect, smart beta is a combination of efficient-market hypothesis and value investing. Smart beta defines a set of investment strategies that emphasize the use of alternative index construction rules to traditional market capitalization-based indices. Smart beta emphasizes capturing investment factors or market inefficiencies in a rules-based and transparent way. The increased popularity of smart beta is linked to a desire for portfolio risk management and diversification along factor dimensions, as well as seeking to enhance risk-adjusted returns above cap-weighted indices.

Hmm. Not a single mention of volatility. Are you confused yet?

Growth, Aggressive Growth, Capital Appreciation, Equity Income

Growth sounds good, but how is it different from capital appreciation? Don’t they mean the same thing? Does aggressive mean faster, riskier, meaner, or something else? Equity income funds are supposed to be stocks that pay dividends, right? So, what category do you think the Dividend Growth Small & Mid-Cap Fund3 is? It has both “dividend” and “growth” in its name, but are they separate or together? Does the fund invest in companies whose dividends are growing, or does it invest in growth companies that also pay dividends? An investor would need to read the fund’s prospectus to find out for sure. I’m sure all good investors thoroughly read those prospectuses from cover to cover.

Reporting Problem

The SEC requires mutual funds to report complete lists of their holdings on a quarterly basis. So, the manager of the hypothetical Blah-Blah Domestic Large Cap Fund could buy a bunch of foreign small-cap stocks on January 1 and hold them until March 28. Then, the manager could sell them and replace them with domestic large-cap stocks, and report on March 31 that the fund was properly holding domestic large cap stocks as required. On April 1, the manager could buy back the foreign small cap stocks and repeat that process every quarter.

Conclusion

Mutual fund names and categories are more informative than they used to be, but they can still be quite confusing or misleading. Investors (and advisors) need to do their due diligence, fully read those prospectuses, and closely follow the actions of the fund managers. Is your advisor recommending mutual funds? Are they confident of what’s really in those funds? Are you? If you have any questions about the mutual funds in your portfolio, email me at steve.hartel@trilogyfs.com and I if I can’t answer your question, I will find someone who can.

  1. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/beta.asp
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/smart-beta.asp

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By
David McDonough
March 28, 2023

Financial planning involves thoughtfully outlining objectives and setting goals in your Life Plan. With anything, the possibility of running into obstacles, options, and challenges throughout your financial journey is unavoidable. That’s why it is important to implement some sort of checks and balances to mitigate these challenges. Insurance is one of the best ways to account for unforeseen conditions and events in your financial plan. The thought of utilizing insurance can be daunting. It makes the possibility of losing your car or home due to an accident, flood, or fire a reality. That’s exactly why we create a financial plan – to be prepared for the unexpected. Our team is committed to coaching you through the process, so that you can make an informed and confident decision. There are various types of insurance services available that your Trilogy Financial advisor can help you navigate so you can handle the many uncertainties that life throws your way.

Read on to discover these insurance services.

Insurance Services Provided by Trilogy Financial

Every Trilogy Financial Advisor is committed to helping you build the legacy you have always desired to leave through the following services:

Term Insurance

A term insurance policy is the most common form of temporary life insurance. The term usually lasts for a specific “term” of years. Term insurance is also a form of insurance that is rented. Meaning, you pay a monthly premium for the insurance, but it expires after the allotted time frame. The duration can range from five to thirty years.

Term insurance protects liabilities that will cease to exist after a specific period, such as providing extra cashflow for raising children. It is a simple life insurance plan that protects against the possibility of an untimely death. A death benefit is granted if the insured passes away during the policy's stated tenure.

Because death is unpredictable, term insurance plans are essential. The family may experience a significant financial loss if the family's primary provider passes away. A term plan covers the loss. It benefits the family, allowing them to cover lifestyle costs and continue to address their financial objectives.

Permanent Insurance

Permanent insurance can be considered “owning” insurance coverage. Like term insurance, you pay a monthly premium; however, in permanent insurance, the range is continuous and does not end within a time frame.

For instance, even after your children have moved out and your liabilities have diminished, you may continue to carry some form of insurance to cover your loved ones and compensate for your end-of-life needs.

Permanent insurance premiums are more significant than term insurance premiums because, unlike term insurance, the insurance company may never have to pay out the policy. Permanent insurance can be used as an income and an insurance tool. Both a death benefit and a cash value factor are included. You can access the money as the value increases by taking out a loan or a withdrawal, and you can terminate the insurance by withdrawing the cash value.

Long-Term Care Planning

Long-term care planning, at its foundation, entails ensuring that you or a loved one's needs are adequately met when they can no longer care for themselves. Therefore, as you age, having a practical plan becomes more and more crucial. While many maintain their independence well into their senior years, it never hurts to plan.

Any long-term financial plan should consider long-term care costs, especially if you are in your 50s or older. You are unlikely to qualify for long-term care insurance if you already have a disabling condition. Most over 75 applicants will not be accepted by long-term care insurance providers. Most persons who purchase long-term care insurance do so between 50 and 60.

Risk Management

Risk management entails recognizing, assessing and managing risk. A well-executed risk management program is built on a foundation of standardized risk assessments to assist businesses in prioritizing their risk based on its potential impact. This procedure will inevitably reveal hazards affecting the company's fundamental competencies.

As financial Advisors, it is a part of our job to help you navigate your financial well-being, which includes helping you mitigating certain risks. Identifying your risk factors is your first defense, followed by avoiding or limiting risks to your income and survivors. Insurance is your quality line of defense.

Importance of Insurance in Financial Planning

Here are some factors that make insurance an essential aspect of your Life Plan:

  • Financial assurance: You feel safe knowing that the insurance policy will cover the damages in the event of an emergency.
  • Tax advantages: Insurance lowers your taxable income and provides financial benefits.1
  • Risk protection: Insurance prepares you to deal with any financial loss you might suffer in the event of an unplanned circumstance.
  • Meeting your prerequisites: Several insurance policies are available to cover the various risks you can encounter.
  • Peace of mind: Insurance plans assure you that your funds will not be compromised in the event of an emergency.

*This information is not intended as authoritative guidance or tax advice.  You should consult with your tax advisor for guidance on your specific situation.

Why Choose Trilogy Financial

Your financial plan should be strategically in line with your insurance. Our Trilogy Financial Advisors use a comprehensive strategy to offer insurance policies tailored to your specific needs and Life Plan. We understand the risks you face and how to help improve your financial life. Our Advisors will work with you to develop a deeper understanding of your alternatives, pinpoint practical needs and make plans for the care you and your family deserve.

To help you build the life you’ve dreamed, we collaborate with the most reliable insurance firms with a track record of being financial secure and capable of paying claims.

Get Started with a Financial Advisor Today

Everyone has a distinct level of risk, and before purchasing insurance, it is critical to identify risks and establish how to limit the likelihood of them occurring. We understand that everyone has a varying level of comfort and experience in navigating finances and Life Plans. That’s why our Advisors are committed to being both a partner and coach to support you as much or as little as you need, so you can make the best decisions for you and your family.

At Trilogy Financial, our Advisors will guide you through your daily financial decisions to keep you on track and set you up for your real-life goals. If you have any questions concerning insurance or any other element of your financial life, get in touch or visit our website today to book a meeting with an advisor

 

happily discussing insurance plan after meeting with financial advisor
 

 

By
Jeff Motske, CFP®
October 29, 2020
 

Today, conversations, screens, and ads on how the upcoming election will affect our economy and the American way of life are unavoidable. Naturally, we start to ponder how the outcome might impact our own financial independence. Since market forecasters and economic commentators ever really get it right only part of the time, formulating investment strategy based on “expert” prognostications and financial journalism routinely sets individual investors up for failure.

According to historical analysis, in 19 of the past 23 election years from 1928-2016, stock market returns were positive, no matter which party held office. In fact, during an election year, the S&P 500 has experienced an average return of 11.3%—data that demonstrably counters the stock market doom and gloom headline hysteria generated in the media.

While it is crucial not to be emotionally reactive, it is equally important to plan for economic changes that are realistically possible. Following an election, it is wise to assess how federal policies could impact your plan.

A few takeaways…

  1. Separate your personal politics from your investment decision-making.
  2. Remain calm and focused on your long-term plan: thoughtful planning plus sound decision-making matters.

During his First Inaugural Address, our 32nd President reminded the nation that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” If not kept in check, fear becomes a catalyst for rash decision-making which can impede your path to financial freedom. As always, I am here to talk things through with you, to listen, and to assuage your fear; that’s my job.

Get Started on Your Financial Life Plan Today