Opinions on American Funds

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elephantstone
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Opinions on American Funds

Post by elephantstone » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:33 pm

Hello all,

I've traditionally been a passive index investor. My new job offers a Simple IRA through Wells Fargo Advisors. I met with the advisor yesterday to discuss options. She recommends American Funds for the fact that they have low expense ratios and fees similar to index funds, but are actively managed. According to the advisor AF keeps fees low by not advertising like other brokerage firms. I remain skeptical. Their C shares have expense ratios hovering around 1.5%, but with higher investment balances (>$25k) you can purchase A shares with lower ERs of 0.6-.75% (some higher). I'm seeing questionably higher returns compared to indexing and that's not counting their higher expenses.

The long and the short of it is I'm a 40 yr old veterinarian with $200 in various retirement accounts. I'm comfortable with risk as I won't be accessing my money for another 25 years. Thus far I've been all equities mainly divided into S&P500 and Total Stock Market with Vanguard. I make $100k a year and my wife is a stay-at-home mother so we are comfortable but by no means affluent. I drive her 2003 Honda civic with $100k miles on it. We're closing on a $370k home in 2 weeks.

Right now I'm 90% certain I'll stick to lazy portfolio index funds. Interested to hear what you guys think. I know opinions are... well, opinions, but I value them just the same.

Have a fantastic weekend and God bless everyone affected by hurricane Florence.

Austin
Fortitudine Vincimus - "By endurance we conquer"

elephantstone
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by elephantstone » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:35 pm

Forgot the "k" in my retirement accounts ;). $200k!
Fortitudine Vincimus - "By endurance we conquer"

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bottlecap
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by bottlecap » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:38 pm

They are respectable funds that have done well, but the expenses don’t justify the potential benefits in the future.

JT

Dottie57
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:45 pm

bottlecap wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:38 pm
They are respectable funds that have done well, but the expenses don’t justify the potential benefits in the future.

JT
This. Also, I can’t really tell what exactly is in each fund. My Af funds didfairly well going through the great recession. I have sold and then bought Fidelity indexfunds. I nowknow what I have in stocks.

Your savings rate will determine how well you do in retirement. So stash the cash!
Last edited by Dottie57 on Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:47 pm

I wouldn’t pay that much in fees for an active fund. Do they have any some low cost options?

I guess, in a pinch, I’d do it for the tax deferral, but sheesh!

Morgan Dollar 1921
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Morgan Dollar 1921 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:54 pm

That small k, is very big, Congrats on your progress thus far. Bottlecap was spot on, I was a registered rep in the 1980's, so a lot has changed. I don't give out investment advice because that is RIA territory, BUT, I started with a major insurance firm (rock) then went to Amex/IDS, reason not important here, we were recruited right about the time IDS was adding the American Funds to their stable of options. The IDS funds were OK, but not as good as the American family, in my opinion. Then when they set us new reps up, we had to establish our base, so to speak with the IDS family prior to being allowed to offer American funds. Did not seem right that my potential clients deserved less than a better choice, so I changed careers. Bottom line, that was years ago, and expense ratio's have dropped due to competition and client knowledge. IF you have to pick an American fund or two, I am partial to Washington Mutual, it holds the blue chip large cap stocks that were deemed suitable for trust funds. I did no research prior to answering your post, but you are doing the smart thing by doing your own. Good luck & be safe. Oh, large animal vet? Raised on a dairy farm.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:57 pm

They are a respectable money management company. However, if the only way you can access their services is to purchase C class shares - pass on it. If you purchase A shared, then you have to accept paying a sales charge for it.

Your investment- owning both the S&P 500 and Total Stock Market Index, you have significant overlap between the two, resulting in a portfolio that is weighted towards large caps. You may want to consider adding a fund like small cap index or Tax Managed Small Cap Index ($10k minimum) to lower the cap weighing or Extended Market Index.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

Nate79
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Nate79 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:23 pm

What funds do you have access to and what are their actual ER?

2pedals
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by 2pedals » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:44 pm

There is a way to avoid the high ERs and costs by transferring the money to your own SIMPLE IRA or IRA .

see
https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/SIMPLE_IRA
https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Fiduciary_transfers
viewtopic.php?t=238472

elephantstone
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by elephantstone » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:47 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:57 pm
They are a respectable money management company. However, if the only way you can access their services is to purchase C class shares - pass on it. If you purchase A shared, then you have to accept paying a sales charge for it.

Your investment- owning both the S&P 500 and Total Stock Market Index, you have significant overlap between the two, resulting in a portfolio that is weighted towards large caps. You may want to consider adding a fund like small cap index or Tax Managed Small Cap Index ($10k minimum) to lower the cap weighing or Extended Market Index.
Yes, Grt2bOutdoors, I realize I need to diversify a more and small cap was exactly my thought. I'm not familiar of the terminology of "Tax Managed" Small Cap or "Extended Market", but will look into them. I was thinking maybe a small cap value?
Nate79 wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:23 pm
What funds do you have access to and what are their actual ER?
Nate, I think any and all funds from AF.


Thanks all for the replies.
Fortitudine Vincimus - "By endurance we conquer"

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:24 pm

elephantstone wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:47 pm
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:57 pm
They are a respectable money management company. However, if the only way you can access their services is to purchase C class shares - pass on it. If you purchase A shared, then you have to accept paying a sales charge for it.

Your investment- owning both the S&P 500 and Total Stock Market Index, you have significant overlap between the two, resulting in a portfolio that is weighted towards large caps. You may want to consider adding a fund like small cap index or Tax Managed Small Cap Index ($10k minimum) to lower the cap weighing or Extended Market Index.
Yes, Grt2bOutdoors, I realize I need to diversify a more and small cap was exactly my thought. I'm not familiar of the terminology of "Tax Managed" Small Cap or "Extended Market", but will look into them. I was thinking maybe a small cap value?
Nate79 wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:23 pm
What funds do you have access to and what are their actual ER?
Nate, I think any and all funds from AF.


Thanks all for the replies.
There are two Vanguard small cap funds, small cap value index tracks csrp index and seems to hold larger market cap (within small cap universe) stocks than S&P 600 small cap value index found in etf VIOV. Tax Managed Small Cap tracks S&P small cap index, blend of small value, small blend, small growth equities. Extended Market - think of entire universe as Large Cap, Mid cap and Small Cap equities. Extended Market represents the Mid-Cap and Small Cap sections of the market.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

daveydoo
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by daveydoo » Sat Sep 15, 2018 7:02 pm

elephantstone wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:35 pm
Forgot the "k" in my retirement accounts ;). $200k!
Post of the day! Better than putting it in by mistake, I guess! The "24-million megapixel" cameras... :D

They keep their ER low by not advertising? They're a hidden gem, huh? They're among the best-known and largest funds out there!

Best-case ERs are ~ 0.5%, I believe. It's true, many have not been dogs and some have done well over the past decade as Larry S liked to point out. But I would not choose them going forward with the expectation that they will outperform. And even if they were to continue to match an index performance (or even edge it), I would not give a penny of my money to slime-balls who specialize in charging 5.75% loads to unsuspecting clients.
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

krow36
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by krow36 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:07 pm

Elephantstone, I’m not sure what you are 90% sure of? Since you cannot invest in index funds in the Wells Fargo managed SIMPLE IRA, are you 90% sure you are not going to participate in the SIMPLE IRA? That would be foolish. The SIMPLE has a 3% employer match or a 2% required employer contribution. It’s a no-brainer to participate in the SIMPLE.

Have you read the links that 2pedals posted? The WF SIMPLE IRA is a Form 5305SA, which allows you to move your and your employer’s contributions to another financial institution at no cost. You would establish a “transfer” SIMPLE IRA at say Vanguard, which calls it a “frozen” SIMPLE account. You would make your contributions to an AF (or WF?) no-load MM account. You can make periodic transfers from the WF SIMPLE to your VG SIMPLE. This is a mechanism that Congress and the IRS have developed to protect employees from the high fees of their employer’s chosen financial institution. Two years from your first contribution to the WF SIMPLE, you can make the transfers to a traditional IRA.

D-7 of the SIMPLE IRA SECTION 1: DISCLOSURE STATEMENT is the WF vague statement that your
WF SIMPLE balance can be transferred to your SIMPLE IRA account at another financial institution.
D .7 May I transfer funds directly from one SIMPLE IRA to another SIMPLE IRA or to another tax-favored account?
Instead of making a rollover contribution, you may transfer funds held in a previously established SIMPLE IRA to a new SIMPLE IRA by giving directions for the transfer to the Trustee/ Custodian of each SIMPLE IRA. Transfers are not subject to the “once in 12 months rule” of rollover contributions.
You may also transfer funds directly from one SIMPLE IRA to the tax-favored accounts described in Question D.5 if you have participated in your employer’s SIMPLE IRA plan for at least two years. The two-year requirement does not apply if you otherwise satisfy an exception to the 25% early withdrawal penalty described in Question E.2.
https://www.wellsfargofunds.com/assets/ ... osures.pdf

JBTX
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by JBTX » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:42 pm

American funds have very good very long term track records and tended to outperform their competitors. However if you look at the last 10 years and 15 years they have tracked very close to index funds and have lagged comparable index funds slightly. They have generally beat most comparable active funds.

Advisors really push American funds as being superior. I think 2 decade - 3 decades ago they had excellent performance so that makes their lifetime performance look really good.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by AlohaJoe » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:49 pm

https://www.ifa.com/articles/deeper_loo ... can_funds/
Of these 57 American funds, 58% (or 33 funds) had positive Average Alpha over the period, and only 12.3% (or 7 funds) had a consistently high enough alpha, and a low enough standard deviation of alpha, and a large enough sample size of data that we could be about 95% confident the alpha was due to skill rather than luck. Which still leaves room for a 5% error in certainty, or a 1 in 20 chance of concluding a manager had skill, when in fact it was just luck.

For 26 of the 33 funds with positive alpha, the number of years needed to confirm skill exceeded the number of years of historical returns shown in the subtitle, sometimes by a very wide margin. Of the 7 funds that have a positive alpha that is statistically significant, 4 have 5 years of performance history of less. Their out or underperformance may be to a mismatch in asset allocation versus a positive indication of skill. In other words, we have reason to believe that this outperformance is due to luck versus an indication of actual skill. Further, 2 of the funds are either Target-Date funds or funds used in college 529 plans. These funds are really just fund-of-funds of different American Fund strategies. This is why we believe that their outperformace happens to do with a mismatch between asset allocation of strategy and benchmark.
So there are 3 American funds that have statistically significant alpha but at 95% confidence (and with 57 funds), there is still a chance the results are due to luck.

jalbert
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by jalbert » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:04 pm

The biggest problem with American Funds products arises when they are sold with sizable loads and 12b-1 fees flowing to advisors that direct clients to the funds.

Generally they are good actively managed portfolios. Fees are often higher than for Vanguard active funds, but I’ve occasionally seen them be down in the 20-30 bp/yr range also.

At 60-75 bp/yr I’d say this is on the high side for expecting active management to be competitive with index funds on risk-adjusted terms. Active managers routinely take a little more risk to make up the higher ER, and then the risk premium flows to the fund company while the investor shoulders the risk.

What are the choices in the plan and their expense ratios?
Index fund investor since 1987.

Miriam2
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Miriam2 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:18 pm

elephantstone wrote: My new job offers a Simple IRA through Wells Fargo Advisors. I met with the advisor yesterday to discuss options. She recommends American Funds for the fact that they have low expense ratios and fees similar to index funds, but are actively managed. According to the advisor AF keeps fees low by not advertising like other brokerage firms. I remain skeptical. Their C shares have expense ratios hovering around 1.5%, but with higher investment balances (>$25k) you can purchase A shares with lower ERs of 0.6-.75% (some higher). I'm seeing questionably higher returns compared to indexing and that's not counting their higher expenses. . . .
My understanding is that American Funds are highly regarded funds - in 401k and other retirement plans where you don't have those outrageous AF loads, fees and high expense ratios. With these problems out of the way, you still need to check the share class level of the fund, because each class level of the same fund will have a different ER.

My son has used the American Funds Balanced Fund (RLBGX) for several years in his 401k. It is the R6 class, which has a pretty low ER of .29% and no loads or fees. It has between 50-70% equities and the rest bonds and "other stuff," with a performance similar to Vanguard Wellington. I've read that other Bogleheads use it when they wish a balanced fund in a 401k.

Other forum threads on American Funds -

www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=218822
www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=213567
www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=231254

Miriam2
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Miriam2 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:03 pm

elephantstone wrote: She recommends American Funds for the fact that they have low expense ratios and fees similar to index funds, but are actively managed. According to the advisor AF keeps fees low by not advertising like other brokerage firms. . . I'm seeing questionably higher returns compared to indexing and that's not counting their higher expenses.
If the higher AF returns come from AF or this advisor, please read other threads on this forum about using AF's data when you compare funds from different companies.

Also, something to keep in mind, you're investing for your retirement for the long term, and it's important to learn how higher fees and costs of funds can compound up against you over time. It might look like a little more money now in costs, but over time it adds up.

In another thread, forum member #Cruncher crunched the numbers for the long term effect of costs on 3 different 60/40 funds. The effect of higher fees, of course, reduces the amount of money retained by the investor, but only part of this reduction is directly due to fees being paid to the fund manager. The bulk of the shortfall is due to the indirect effect of lost growth because fees aren't available in our account for reinvestment, for compounding over time. They were given to the fund manager.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by SNIPER338 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:14 pm

Not much to add but I just sold some AF mutual funds to buy in to vanguard mutual funds. The AF the "advisor" stuck my wifes money in did HORRIBLE and yeilded .02% returns in the last 5 years. My heart sank when I I finally looked at it all and she let me take more control.

Im not smart but if you got 18k in a roth IRA and its made less than half a percent in 5 years something aint right. The expense ratios were high too. Ive almost got everything set up with vanguard now, and im more comfortable with this and having control over investments.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by nedsaid » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:13 am

elephantstone wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:33 pm
Hello all,

I've traditionally been a passive index investor. My new job offers a Simple IRA through Wells Fargo Advisors. I met with the advisor yesterday to discuss options. She recommends American Funds for the fact that they have low expense ratios and fees similar to index funds, but are actively managed. According to the advisor AF keeps fees low by not advertising like other brokerage firms. I remain skeptical. Their C shares have expense ratios hovering around 1.5%, but with higher investment balances (>$25k) you can purchase A shares with lower ERs of 0.6-.75% (some higher). I'm seeing questionably higher returns compared to indexing and that's not counting their higher expenses.

The long and the short of it is I'm a 40 yr old veterinarian with $200 in various retirement accounts. I'm comfortable with risk as I won't be accessing my money for another 25 years. Thus far I've been all equities mainly divided into S&P500 and Total Stock Market with Vanguard. I make $100k a year and my wife is a stay-at-home mother so we are comfortable but by no means affluent. I drive her 2003 Honda civic with $100k miles on it. We're closing on a $370k home in 2 weeks.

Right now I'm 90% certain I'll stick to lazy portfolio index funds. Interested to hear what you guys think. I know opinions are... well, opinions, but I value them just the same.

Have a fantastic weekend and God bless everyone affected by hurricane Florence.

Austin
The American Funds are great, I would hesitate to buy the C shares though. Pretty much, your retirement plan is forcing you to pay sales commissions. Normally, C shares convert to A shares after about 5 years or so. You pay 1% more a year in expense ratios in lieu of the upfront 5.75% sales charge. Disappointing that your plan sticks you with higher fees.
A fool and his money are good for business.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:24 am

elephantstone wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:33 pm
She recommends American Funds for the fact that they have low expense ratios and fees similar to index funds, but are actively managed. According to the advisor AF keeps fees low by not advertising like other brokerage firms. I remain skeptical. Their C shares have expense ratios hovering around 1.5%, but with higher investment balances (>$25k) you can purchase A shares with lower ERs of 0.6-.75% (some higher). I'm seeing questionably higher returns compared to indexing and that's not counting their higher expenses.
I'd say you've cited a basic flaw in her reasoning. An ER of 0.6% to 0.75% is hardly "similar to index funds".
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:29 am

They don't advertise? Really? They have a 12b-1 fee which is for marketing, which if it's not advertising, what is it? The advisor is lying. What a surprise.

AF is behind the times with fee reductions. While BHs rage about the differences between a 0%, 0.015%, 0.04% fee, AF is charging 0.6% minimum (more than 10 times the index fund fees) which compared to what I consider THE active fund....Contrafund, is 50% higher on the low end of the AF spectrum.
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:47 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:29 am
They don't advertise? Really? They have a 12b-1 fee which is for marketing, which if it's not advertising, what is it?
Well, if I were the cynic that my wife occasionally claims that I am (and I likely am, come to think of it), I'd say that the 12b-1 fees were a legalized kickback to the advisor in return for putting the investor into the higher-cost fund options.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by grabiner » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:38 am

You may be in the rare situation in which C shares make sense. C shares are guaranteed to underperform A shares if held for at least eight years, and they are usually intended for investments which you should keep at least that long. But if your SIMPLE IRA allows you to roll out money after two years into your personal IRA, then you can hold the C shares and pay their higher expenses for two years, then move the money to your own IRA into a lower-cost fund. You aren't pulling out of the stock market after two years, as you can sell the C shares of a stock fund and buy another stock fund.
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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Bronco Billy » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:17 am

I have an inherited IRA with EJ. The FA did a good job with my dad and so i have left this account with EJ. It is funded with almost all AF and for the last two years has kept up with the RMD i have to take each year. The the Front load fees on AF are bad. EJ wants to charge me 1% account fee on any new orders. I am not buying any more AF fund with my RMD $. They send me a check and it goes to VG. Once it does not keep up with RMD i will be moving it also to VG.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by sergio » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:15 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:45 pm
bottlecap wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:38 pm
They are respectable funds that have done well, but the expenses don’t justify the potential benefits in the future.

JT
This. Also, I can’t really tell what exactly is in each fund. My Af funds didfairly well going through the great recession. I have sold and then bought Fidelity indexfunds. I nowknow what I have in stocks.

Your savings rate will determine how well you do in retirement. So stash the cash!
We have mostly American Funds in our 401k plan at work. But we have R6, no-load shares with ERs in the 0.3-0.5 range, perhaps a little higher for their international funds. We also have the vanguard small, mid, and large cap indices.

But I agree with the bolded statement - it's really hard to keep an asset allocation when their "domestic" funds have the ability to purchase up to X% international, large cap funds that can purchase small caps and vice-versa, their funds' often large cash holdings etc. So I use their target date fund @ a 0.42% ER and let them deal with maintaining the asset allocation. I've been comparing the AF target date fund to Vanguard's equivalent and have been quite happy.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:11 pm

sergio wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:15 pm
Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:45 pm
bottlecap wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:38 pm
They are respectable funds that have done well, but the expenses don’t justify the potential benefits in the future.

JT
This. Also, I can’t really tell what exactly is in each fund. My Af funds didfairly well going through the great recession. I have sold and then bought Fidelity indexfunds. I nowknow what I have in stocks.

Your savings rate will determine how well you do in retirement. So stash the cash!
We have mostly American Funds in our 401k plan at work. But we have R6, no-load shares with ERs in the 0.3-0.5 range, perhaps a little higher for their international funds. We also have the vanguard small, mid, and large cap indices.

But I agree with the bolded statement - it's really hard to keep an asset allocation when their "domestic" funds have the ability to purchase up to X% international, large cap funds that can purchase small caps and vice-versa, their funds' often large cash holdings etc. So I use their target date fund @ a 0.42% ER and let them deal with maintaining the asset allocation. I've been comparing the AF target date fund to Vanguard's equivalent and have been quite happy.
Also, if you have multiples of their stock funds, you may be very overweighted in some individual stocks.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by pkcrafter » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:42 pm

elephantstone wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:33 pm
Hello all,

I've traditionally been a passive index investor. My new job offers a Simple IRA through Wells Fargo Advisors. I met with the advisor yesterday to discuss options. She recommends American Funds for the fact that they have low expense ratios and fees similar to index funds, but are actively managed. According to the advisor AF keeps fees low by not advertising like other brokerage firms. I remain skeptical. Their C shares have expense ratios hovering around 1.5%, but with higher investment balances (>$25k) you can purchase A shares with lower ERs of 0.6-.75% (some higher). I'm seeing questionably higher returns compared to indexing and that's not counting their higher expenses.

I'm not clear on this. Is your simple plan offering C shares, A shares, or both? Does the plan offer any index funds?

You have 200k in investments, where are they?

Paul


Last edited by pkcrafter on Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
When times are good, investors tend to forget about risk and focus on opportunity. When times are bad, investors tend to forget about opportunity and focus on risk.

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Re: Opinions on American Funds

Post by nedsaid » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:53 pm

sergio wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:15 pm
Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:45 pm
bottlecap wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:38 pm
They are respectable funds that have done well, but the expenses don’t justify the potential benefits in the future.

JT
This. Also, I can’t really tell what exactly is in each fund. My Af funds didfairly well going through the great recession. I have sold and then bought Fidelity indexfunds. I nowknow what I have in stocks.

Your savings rate will determine how well you do in retirement. So stash the cash!
We have mostly American Funds in our 401k plan at work. But we have R6, no-load shares with ERs in the 0.3-0.5 range, perhaps a little higher for their international funds. We also have the vanguard small, mid, and large cap indices.

But I agree with the bolded statement - it's really hard to keep an asset allocation when their "domestic" funds have the ability to purchase up to X% international, large cap funds that can purchase small caps and vice-versa, their funds' often large cash holdings etc. So I use their target date fund @ a 0.42% ER and let them deal with maintaining the asset allocation. I've been comparing the AF target date fund to Vanguard's equivalent and have been quite happy.
If you have access to the lower cost retirement classes of American Funds, I would invest with them. This is an excellent fund company. I invest personally in American Funds EuroPacific Growth in a former workplace savings plan. I invest in American Funds Capital Income Builder in a Roth IRA and own American Bond Fund of America in a Brokerage IRA. The first fund is in R5 shares and the latter two are "A" shares. My investments are primarily in no-load mutual funds and in low cost ETFs, I have investments in a few loaded funds through American and Franklin-Templeton. I also own some individual stocks.
A fool and his money are good for business.

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