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What is an investment fund?

Investment fund definition

What is an investment fund?

An investment fund is a type of financial product that pools capital from multiple investors to purchase a portfolio of various securities, such as stocks and bonds. This is usually done with the goal of earning higher returns than those offered by traditional investments. 

Key takeaways

  • The investment fund definition is that it is a pool of capital that a number of individual investors pay into, which is used to collectively invest in different securities.

  • They are managed by a professional portfolio manager who makes investment decisions on behalf of the investors.

  • There are various types of investment funds, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and hedge funds, each with its own investment strategy and risk profile.

  • Investment funds are subject to fees, including management fees and expenses, which can impact the overall returns for investors.

  • Investment funds provide investors with a diversified investment portfolio that might help reduce risk and increase returns. However, like every other financial product, they also come with risks, including the potential for losses and exposure to market fluctuations.

How do investment funds work?

Investment funds work by pooling money from multiple investors to purchase a portfolio of securities such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and alternative investments such as real estate and venture capital

Each investor owns their individual shares in the fund. However, they don’t have any influence on where the money in the fund is invested. The portfolio is managed by a professional manager who is responsible for making investment decisions based on the fund's objectives and strategy. They will decide which assets to buy or sell, how many and when.

How investment funds work]

Funds offer investors the potential to benefit from professional management, diversification, and access to a wide range of investment opportunities that may be difficult to achieve on their own. However, they also carry risks, such as the potential for losses, exposure to market fluctuations, and high management fees.

Investment funds may charge fees to cover the cost of managing the fund, such as management fees, administrative expenses, and performance fees. The fees may vary depending on the type of fund and the investment strategy used.

Investment fund types

When deciding to enter an investment fund, investors first consider its objectives – these generally target geographic areas or specific industry sectors. There are many different types of investment funds available in the market. Below, we discuss three major fund categories. 

Mutual funds: Investment vehicles that pool money from many investors to build a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, and other securities. Professionally managed, the funds are diversified to spread risk and maximise returns. Mutual funds trade only once a day after the markets close, and are designed for longer-term investors. They are not meant to be traded frequently due to their fee structures. Investors receive the profits generated by the fund in the form of dividends and capital gains.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs): Similar to mutual funds, ETFs also pool money from many investors, but they trade like a stock on exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ, and can be traded at any point during the trading day. ETFs offer diversification, often at lower costs than traditional mutual funds.

Hedge funds: Private, actively managed investment vehicles that generally use more aggressive strategies to generate higher returns. Some of these can include short selling and arbitrage, as well as make use of leverage and derivatives. Hedge funds are available to accredited investors only due to their high risk and complexity.

Investment funds can be divided into open-ended and closed-ended.

  • Open-ended funds are typically most popular with investors. The number of shares in the fund is more fluid – open-ended funds can issue and redeem shares at any time to meet investor demand. Shares can also be bought or sold directly from the fund. 

  • Closed-ended funds issue a fixed number of shares which can only be bought or sold in the market.

Investment funds can also be further divided into public and private, as well as actively and passively managed. 

  • Publicly-traded funds are bought and sold on the stock exchange and their shares can be traded on the open market. They tend to provide a more diverse selection of assets than private funds. 

  • Private investment funds are usually set up as limited liability companies and managed by professional investment managers. Private funds tend to be more illiquid than public funds and typically require a significantly larger minimum investment. 

  • An actively managed fund involves the fund manager actively managing the fund, selecting the best investments and targeting for a specific return. 

  • A passively managed fund is designed to simply track a specific benchmark and doesn’t require active management.

Note that trading and investing in any kind of funds comes with a risk of financial loss.

Investment fund examples 

Mutual funds: 

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTSAX)

  • Fidelity 500 Index Fund (FXAIX) 

  • Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 Fund (VFIFX) 

Exchange-traded funds:

  • SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) 

  • Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) 

  • Invesco QQQ Trust ETF (QQQ) 

Hedge funds: 

  • Man Group

  • Bridgewater Associates

  • Renaissance Technologies

Advantages and disadvantages of investment funds

Potential advantages 

Potential disadvantages 

Professional management: Investment funds are managed by experienced professionals who have access to market analysis and in-depth research to make informed decisions.


Diversification: Investment funds enable investors to spread their money across multiple asset classes, sectors, and geographical regions.


Flexibility: Investment funds provide investors with a range of options. Investors can choose funds based on risk, return and the type of assets they want to invest in.


Transparency: Investment funds provide investors with full disclosure of their holdings and the fund’s historic performance. 

Lack of control: When investing in a fund, investors are entrusting their money with someone else and their decisions. They do not have any control over how and when the money is invested. 


Market risk: Investment funds can be very volatile as they are actively managed and can be affected by market changes. This means that the fund can lose value quickly or take longer to reach its target value.


Lack of liquidity: Some investment funds are not very liquid. They may impose restrictions on when and how investors can redeem their shares.


Fees and expenses: Investment funds will often have management fees as well as transaction costs associated with buying and selling securities.


In conclusion, investment funds may offer a range of potential benefits to investors, such as professional management, diversification, and flexibility. However, like any other investment vehicles, they also carry a number of risks, including the potential for losses and exposure to market fluctuations. 

When deciding whether to invest in a fund, investors should do a thorough research and analyse its objectives, strategy, performance history, and fee structure, as well as consider their own financial goals and risk tolerance.


What is an investment fund and how does it work?

An investment fund is a financial product that pools money from multiple investors to buy a diversified portfolio of assets, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and commodities. Each investor owns a portion of the fund's shares. The fund is managed by a professional manager who makes investment decisions based on the fund's objectives and strategy.

What is an investment fund in simple terms?

In simple terms, an investment fund is a type of investment vehicle that combines money from several investors to buy a variety of different assets, such as stocks and bonds.

What is an example of an investment fund?

There are many different types of investment funds. Some of the examples are:

  • Vanguard 500 Index Fund (mutual fund): This fund tracks the performance of the S&P 500 Index (US500), which is made up of 500 large-cap US stocks. 

  • SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (ETF): This fund also tracks the S&P 500 Index but is traded like a stock on an exchange, meaning investors can buy and sell shares throughout the trading day.

  • Bridgewater Associates Pure Alpha II Fund (hedge fund): This private investment fund uses a variety of investment strategies, including global macroeconomic analysis, to generate returns for investors. It is only available to accredited investors, who meet certain wealth and income requirements.

How do investment funds make money?

Investment funds tend to generate revenue through management fees, which are charged to investors for the fund's management and administration. These fees are typically a percentage of the fund's assets under management (AUM) and can vary depending on the type of fund and the investment strategy.

Some investment funds also charge performance fees, which are typically a percentage of any profits earned by the fund over a certain threshold.

What are the types of funds?

There are many different types of funds, but some common categories of investment funds include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and hedge funds.

How do I start investing in funds?

This depends on the type of fund, so it's important to speak to a financial advisor who can give you information on how to start investing.

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