What is a Minimum Investment?

A minimum investment is the smallest dollar or share quantity that an investor can purchase when investing in a specific security, fund, or opportunity. Often thought of in terms of mutual funds or hedge funds, minimum investments are also found in fixed-income securities, collateralized mortgage obligations (CMO) and limited partnerships (LP), where a minimum specified amount of money needs to put forth in order buy the security. This means an investor cannot invest or buy any amount they want. They need to invest or buy the minimum amount required, or more.

A hedge fund, for example, may require that their clients deposit at least $100,000 with the firm. This is the minimum investment required for the hedge fund to manage the client's money.

Key Takeaways

  • The minimum investment is the specified smallest amount of capital that is required to buy into or invest in a security, asset, or opportunity.
  • Mutual funds and hedge funds typically have minimum investments, although these can vary drastically from hundreds or thousands of dollars right up into the millions.
  • Purchasing certain assets may require a minimum purchase, such as bonds.

How a Minimum Investment Works

Minimum investment amounts can vary based on the mutual fund in question and can stretch anywhere from $1 all the way to $1 million or more. Hedge fund minimum investments can be even larger, as can some LPs and unit investment trusts. For retail investors, there remains a large selection of funds that have modest minimum investments, usually starting at $100 and up.

A big factor for a fund manager in determining a minimum investment size is the strategy and liquidity demands of the fund itself. By setting a high minimum investment, fund managers can effectively weed out short-term investors and regulate cash inflows to the fund, which can be helpful for day-to-day management of the assets.

Funds may also impose a high minimum investment to avoid the paperwork and bookkeeping of having lots of clients. A fund may have only a handful of large clients, while another firm may have the same amount of capital under management but that capital was provided by thousands of clients.

Some firms prefer to cater to smaller clients, with low minimum investment products, while other firms prefer higher minimum investments geared toward higher net worth individuals.

Some funds may have minimum investment amounts that vary by trading platform due to arrangements between the broker-dealer and the fund company.

Generally, investors must consider minimum investment allocations when seeking new investments.

In other markets, a minimum investment may be set by a broker, or simply by the purchase price of the security (multiplied by the quantity the security can be bought or sold in).

For example, many brokers will require a minimum investment of $5,000 to buy bonds. When dealing with larger clients or businesses, the minimum investment may be $25,000, $100,000 or even $1 million or more.

Many mutual funds and hedge funds follow a strategy or simply track an index. Most index, and some strategies, can be invested in by buying exchange traded funds (ETFs). ETFs don't have the minimum investment requirements of many mutual and hedge funds, yet may offer similar returns in many cases. Since ETFs trade like stocks, an investor can purchase as little as one share. Therefore, the minimum investment in an ETF is one share multiplied by the trading price of the ETF.

Examples of Minimum Investment

Minimum investments vary drastically across mutual and hedge funds.

The Vanguard Windsor Fund Investor Shares (VWNDX) has strong long-term performance averaging 11.23% per year going back to 1958, as of May 2019. The minimum investment in the large-capitalization value fund is $3,000. Once invested, clients can invest further funds in increments of as little as $1. The fund has an expense ratio of 0.31%

On the other end of the spectrum, the Vanguard S&P Mid-Cap 400 Index Fund Institutional Shares (VSPMX) has a $5 million minimum investment. As in many cases though, the fund's strategy of tracking the S&P Mid-Cap 400 index is also available in an ETF which can be purchased for the price of one share. While the price of the Vanguard S&P Mid-Cap 400 ETF (IVOO) fluctuates daily, since as little as one share can be purchased investors can invest with as little as a couple of hundred dollars.