Financial advisors who work with mutual funds need to have access to reliable information that can provide them the data they need to effectively manage their clients’ fund portfolios. There are many firms that provide mutual fund data for a fee, but there are also some free sources that advisors can use when it comes to fund selection and analysis. Some of the more well-known sources of mutual fund data include the following: (For more, see: How Can I Use Fundamental Analysis Techniques to Evaluate a Mutual Fund?)
- Morningstar – No list of free fund information providers would be complete without the inclusion of what many consider to be the flagship of fund analysts. This company analyzes, ranks and screens the vast majority of mutual funds in existence, including open and closed-end funds and ETFs. A substantial amount of fund data is available on their website for free, such as fund prices and historical performance, management, fees and tax information. www.morningstar.com
- Lipper Leaders – This service is owned by Thompson Reuters and ranks mutual funds according to five metrics: Total and Consistent Return, Preservation, Tax Efficiency and Expenses. www.lipperleaders.com
- Kiplinger – Their Mutual Fund Fact Finder can provide users with a comparison tool that allows them to search for mutual funds by name and criteria and also compare funds to each other. Data such as performance, style and fee information is also available for download at no charge. http://www.kiplinger.com/fronts/channels/investing/index.html
- Mutual Fund Observer – Unlike most of its rivals, this website is sponsored by a 501(c)3 organization that is dedicated to providing a deeper level of commentary and information on new and smaller mutual funds that are not mature enough to attract the attention of mainstream analysts. This site essentially covers funds that are off of Morningstar’s radar and provides what the manager of one of these funds as a “Morningstar for the rest of us.” The site provides fund profiles, rich analytics, monthly commentary that features intelligent, rational fund analysis and a discussion board. The site asks three initial questions about every fund that it covers:
- Is there any reason this fund should even exist, other than because the manager needs a job?
- Is there any reason to believe that the manager can execute the strategy?
- Is there any reason to believe that the manager will end up sabotaging it?
- MAXFunds – This website offers a Fund-O-Matic fund screener that allows “regular people” who don’t have finance degrees to search for funds according to various criteria and then read about them in understandable language. Users who don’t want funds that were recommended by a financial advisor can use this tool to find no-load funds with low expense ratios. This site has been described as having a “cheeky” attitude regarding its offerings. www.maxfunds.com
- Mutual Fund Education Alliance – This site is hosted by a mutual fund trade association and is dedicated to educating investors about mutual funds and how they can benefit them. This site could be one that advisors use to help their clients learn about the basic nuts and bolts of these vehicles. It has basic educational tools that include standard mutual fund data, sample portfolios, links to mutual fund companies and other resources. www.mfea.com
The Bottom Line
These are just a few of the free mutual fund resources that are available for advisors who need access to mutual fund data at no charge. Most of these sources also have additional information that is available via paid subscription, such as deeper levels of commentary and advanced analytics. (For more, see: How Often do Mutual Funds Report their Holdings?)