Most mutual fund investors would be hard pressed to name more than one or two of the top holdings within their favorite funds. This is because fund investors tend to compare mutual funds on the basis of their performance, without giving much thought to the specific stocks, bonds and other financial instruments held within the fund. By their nature, mutual funds are a passive form of investment: we trust that the mutual fund manager has the expertise to choose the "right" investments that will provide the best returns in our portfolios.

Tutorial: Mutual Funds Basics

As individual investors, we rarely have a large enough portfolio to make individual equity or bond selections on our own. As a result, the average retail portfolio is usually insufficiently diversified with individual stock picks, and we mutual fund holders are subjected to undue risk from one or two bad choices forming a large percentage of our total holdings. For these reasons, retail investors who are dissatisfied with the passive approach of mutual funds and want to take a more active role in choosing equities would do well to join an investment club. (Find out more in Benefit From A Winning Investment Club.)

The Benefits of an Investment Club
You can think of an investment club as a small-scale mutual fund where decisions are made by a committee of non-professionals. In fact, an investment club can be established as a legal entity, either as a legal partnership or as a limited liability corporation, making its framework similar in principle to that of a mutual fund. Best of all, an investment club avoids the often burdensome management fees that all mutual funds levy on their unit holders - fees that can have a significant impact on the overall return provided by mutual funds.

But the benefits of an investment club come with a major caveat: the returns (or losses) that the club realizes entirely depend on club members and their abilities to choose the right investments for their pooled funds. When we purchase mutual funds from the major fund companies, we are effectively purchasing the education, experience, skills and discipline of the mutual fund managers entrusted with our money. When we join an investment club, we are attempting to replicate (and improve upon) some of those management attributes, but in a non-professional setting.

A typical investment club will meet on a regular basis (usually every month) to review its existing portfolio and to take suggestions from club members regarding new investment opportunities. The monthly meeting is an open floor, where each club member is able to voice his or her opinion about the suitability of new investments and other concerns regarding the performance of the pooled funds. Unlike any mutual fund, the investment club is a true democracy: here, the collective wisdom of the club members, combined with information they've gathered through intensive research, serves (in theory) to produce the best investment decisions.

Principles of a Successful Investment Club
The National Association of Investors Corporation (NAIC) is the pre-eminent advocate of collaborative investing. It maintains extensive archives of information for starting and maintaining investment clubs. The NAIC advocates four simple principles which apply as much to making excellent individual investment decisions as they do to making democratic decisions in a club setting:

  • Invest regularly.
  • Reinvest dividends and capital gains.
  • Discover and own leadership growth companies.
  • Prudently diversify by company size and industry.

These principles are very much in keeping with a buy-and-hold strategy, characterized by low portfolio turnover rates. The average holding period for equities within NAIC-advocated portfolios is more than six years. The NAIC's principles and strategies have enabled it to claim that "on average, the long-term performance of NAIC members has generally outperformed market benchmarks." The NAIC boasts a large membership consisting of both individual investors and investment clubs, and it offers services for introducing individuals to clubs in their area. (Learn more about investment clubs in Investment Clubs Pool Assets, Expertise and 4 Tips For Joining An Investment Club.)

Conclusion
You don't need to belong to the National Association of Investors Corporation to see the value in its overarching principles of discipline, diversification, reinvestment and careful selection of top companies. Indeed, you don't even need to belong to an investment club to adopt these principles as part of your individual investment strategy.

But there are clear benefits to the discipline and decision-making typical of investment clubs. By maintaining a strict regimen of regular meetings, investment clubs force individual investors to adopt an active investment style, in which portfolio review is ongoing and investment decisions - whether to buy, sell or hold - are constantly made.

Furthermore, the decision-making power of the investment club resides in its democracy. Each member brings his or her own education, experience and skills to the group, all of which are used to their fullest when evaluating and debating a decision. The power of the mutual fund comes from professional management that may be able to beat average market returns. The power of the investment club comes from the collective talents of numerous individual members.

Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: PowerShares DB Commodity Tracking

    Find out about the PowerShares DB Commodity Tracking ETF, and explore a detailed analysis of the fund that tracks 14 distinct commodities using futures contracts.
  2. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    5 Mutual Funds that Hold Berkshire Hathaway Stock

    Discover the top five mutual funds most heavily weighted with Berkshire Hathaway stock, and the percentage of their assets dedicated to BRK.
  3. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Comparing ETFs Vs. Mutual Funds For Tax Efficiency

    Explore a comparison of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, and learn what makes ETFs a significantly more tax-efficient investment.
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    4 Mutual Funds that Hold Tesla Stock

    Obtain information on the four mutual funds that have significant allocations to Tesla Motors, Inc. in their major portfolio holdings.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    4 Mutual Funds that Hold Apple Stock

    Discover mutual funds offering the most substantial percentage of holdings in Apple, Inc. stock that investors can use to get significant exposure to Apple.
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 5 Precious Metals Mutual Funds

    Obtain information and analysis of some of the top-rated and most popular mutual funds that offer investors exposure to the precious metals industry.
  7. Insurance

    Whole or Term Life Insurance: Which Is Better?

    Learn the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance. Understand when it is beneficial to buy each type of life insurance.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 5 Bear Market Mutual Funds

    Discover five bear market mutual funds that investors can turn to for generating maximum capital appreciation during a bear market.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    4 Mutual Funds to Consider If Interest Rates Rise

    Learn what mutual funds will perform best if interest rates rise. Interest rates can rise due to inflation or to an improving economy.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 5 Chinese Mutual Funds

    Learn about some of the most popular and best performing mutual funds that offer investors exposure to the important emerging market economy of China.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Equity

    The value of an asset less the value of all liabilities on that ...
  2. Derivative

    A security with a price that is dependent upon or derived from ...
  3. Series 6

    A securities license entitling the holder to register as a limited ...
  4. Inverse Transaction

    A transaction that can cancel out a forward contract that has ...
  5. Best To Deliver

    The security that is delivered by the short position holder in ...
  6. Exchange-Traded Mutual Funds (ETMF)

    Investopedia explains the definition of exchange-traded mutual ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Can mutual funds outperform savings accounts?

    A mutual fund can – and should – outperform a savings account. In most cases, it should not even be a close race. Savings ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can mutual funds invest in private companies?

    Mutual funds can invest in private companies, which may come as a surprise to many investors. It is rare for a fund to have ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do futures contracts roll over?

    Traders roll over futures contracts to switch from the front month contract that is close to expiration to another contract ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does a forward contract differ from a call option?

    Forward contracts and call options are different financial instruments that allow two parties to purchase or sell assets ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Why do companies enter into futures contracts?

    Different types of companies may enter into futures contracts for different purposes. The most common reason is to hedge ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What does a futures contract cost?

    The value of a futures contract is derived from the cash value of the underlying asset. While a futures contract may have ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!