3.2 Investment funds
In the next video, Professor Janette Rutterford talks to Martin about the different types of investment funds, including hedge funds and the factors that investors should bear in mind when choosing funds to invest in.
Buying shares in a single company or even holding shares in, say, three companies, is generally a risky form of investment. This is because the fortunes of a company, on which its dividends and share price depend, are subject to all sorts of risk. These risks can be broad economic risks, such as recession or an increase in the cost of oil, or risks specific to each company, such as the loss of a major contract or increased competition.
To spread these risks, investors typically invest in shares – and other assets, such as bonds – through investment funds. An investment fund pools the money of lots of investors and uses it to hold a wide range of shares, bonds and other assets. Even relatively small amounts of money placed into such funds can be spread across a wide variety of shares or other assets.
The investments in these investment funds may be selected by managers, based on their research, which aims to assess the prospects for shares and other bonds (called ‘actively managed’ funds). Investors pay fees for the services of the fund managers and are provided with periodic reports on their investments. Other funds (called ‘passively managed’ or ‘tracker’ funds) simply hold investments designed to move in line with a specified share index, and typically have lower charges.