Mutual funds and hedge funds invest money on behalf of individuals and companies. The funds from different investors are pooled and investments are chosen by the fund manager in an attempt to meet specified objectives. Mutual funds, which are called “unit trusts” in some countries, serve the needs of relatively small investors, while hedge funds seek to attract funds from wealthy individuals and large investors such as pension funds. Hedge funds are subject to much less regulation than mutual funds. They are free to use a wider range of trading strategies than mutual funds and are usually more secretive about what they do. Mutual funds are required to explain their investment policies in a prospectus that is available to potential investors.
This chapter describes the types of mutual funds and hedge funds that exist. It examines how they are regulated and the fees they charge. It also looks at how successful they have been at producing good returns for investors.
4.1 MUTUAL FUNDS
One of the attractions of mutual funds for the small investor is the diversification opportunities they offer. As we saw in Chapter 1, diversification improves an investor's risk-return trade-off. However, it can be difficult for a small investor to hold enough stocks to be well diversified. In addition, maintaining a well-diversified portfolio can lead to high transaction costs. A mutual fund provides a way in which the resources of many small investors are ...