This article is from the Investing Articles: Mutual Funds series.
What is a Mutual Fund?
A mutual fund is a pool of investments used to buy a large portfolio of securities that will be managed by a professional advisor. When you buy a share in a mutual fund, you effectively buy a bit of each security held in the fund's portfolio. Mutual funds are sometimes referred to as "investment companies." These investment companies should not be confused with investment banking companies, which raise capital for corporations and municipalities. Mutual funds, on the other hand, are "investment companies" whose shares are sold to the public and which invest the proceeds of these sales in other public companies.
Mutual funds are not risk free investments. Even investing in mutual funds whose portfolios consist only of guaranteed U.S. government bonds contains an element of risk. Before you invest in a mutual fund, be sure you completely understand the risk. When you invest in a fund, the risk of total loss is lessened due to the diversity in the portfolio, but anyone who tells you that there is no risk involved in this investment is lying.