Competition between fund providers continues to result in lower fees on exchange traded funds (ETFs).

A very good thing if you are a proponent of cost minimization when investing.

I read a short article that discusses this subject and makes a couple of useful side points.  (more…)

We looked at “How Investors Use ETFs”.

Today we consider how financial advisors use exchange traded funds (ETFs) in their business.  (more…)

HighTower Advisors has created a great video comparing investment brokers with fiduciaries.

A broker is someone who takes a fee in exchange for executing a transaction. They provide a service in return for compensation. For the most part, a broker is not a fiduciary. However, brokers – depending on where they reside, professional qualifications, company, regulatory oversight, etc. – may have certain duties of care to their clients.

A fiduciary is someone with a legal duty of care to the client. It is more than simply executing transactions. More as if the fiduciary steps into your shoes to try and best meet your needs.

It is an important distinction. Make certain that you always know whether you are dealing with a fiduciary or not. I am not saying never to deal with a non-fiduciary. Only that you know the difference between the two. And, if appropriate, take steps to safeguard your best interests over those of your representative (agent, banker, broker, financial planner, etc.).

Now to the HighTower video.  (more…)

Top 10 Best Things About Mutual Funds

Started reading Morningstar’s “Fund Spy” last night.

A gift from the nice folks at Morningstar, so thanks.

In it, Morningstar produces a chart with the top 10 best things about mutual funds.

An interesting list.  (more…)

Investing in Partial Shares

The share price of certain companies or funds can become quite high over time.

That is one reason why many companies split their shares once they reach a certain value. To make the shares affordable to a wider range of investor.

For example, should you wish to acquire even one share of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK-A) class A shares, you would require just under USD 112,000.00 as at June 13, 2011. A little too expensive for most individual investors.

And for smaller investors, even stocks like Google Inc. (GOOG) at about USD 505.00 or Apple Inc. (AAPL) at about USD 330.00 might be too dear for inclusion in a diversified portfolio.

So what does one do?  (more…)

Diversify With Dollar Cost Averaging

A third reason I think Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA) is a useful tool is that it is great for building a diversified portfolio over time.

That is not to say that one cannot build a diversified portfolio through lump sum investing. However, I believe that DCA can make the process easier and more consistent for investors, especially those with limited resources.  (more…)

Commission Based Financial Advisors

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would say a few words on financial advisors.

Mainly, my thoughts on commission versus fee based advisors.

I shall split this into two parts.

Today, the pros and cons of commission based financial advisors. (more…)

One perceived advantage of exchange traded funds (ETFs) over open-end mutual funds is their greater trading flexibility.

Many investors believe that there are also advantages in respect of ETF costs. Specifically, expense ratios, transaction costs, and tax efficiency.

As with trading flexibility, the potential advantages will vary between investors depending on their investing tactics. I will lay out the reality and you can decide if there is a benefit for you. (more…)

Mutual Fund Concerns: Transaction Costs

Previously we looked at the perceived advantages of investing in mutual funds.

I believe funds are an excellent way for investors to develop well-diversified portfolios and meet their investment long-term investment objectives.

However, there are potential downsides when investing in funds. Not necessarily negatives, but areas investors need to be aware of and take measures to protect themselves against.

We will look at some of these areas of concern in the next few posts.

Today we review transaction costs incurred when buying and selling open-end mutual funds. (more…)

Choosing an Online Broker – Part I

For most investors, I believe using an online brokerage firm is the best way to invest.

Online brokers provide the most cost-effective means to invest and the services provided should meet the needs of almost all individuals.

In researching candidates to take your money, you have many choices.

At times, it is difficult to compare options. There are numerous special offers for new clients. There are also preferential pricing and services dependent on your trading activity level, your amount of assets, the trading platform you choose, etc. And many twists to the prices and services are buried in the fine print.

All this serves to (intentionally) make comparisons a challenge.

Today I will look at a few initial considerations when comparing firms. In my examples, I am using current data from each broker’s US website unless otherwise stated.

(more…)

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