Understand Your Investment Fees Like a Professional

Understand how to determine the actual ROI on your investments after fees and commissions have been paid, even the hidden ones.

As an average investor, do you truly understand your investment return? The average investor might be touting high investment returns at their kid’s next soccer game but when you subtract the fees and investment costs the returns will be quite different. It is important that you know how to professionally evaluate the hidden fees in mutual funds so you can keep more of what you make.

Most average investors we talk to have no idea how their portfolio is invested or what their investments are costing them. According to Demos, a public policy organization, the average household will pay nearly $155,000 in investment costs over their lifetime.

We recently reviewed an investment portfolio for one of our students. They were concerned that their investments were underperforming and wanted to get educated on why. What we discovered was that their “trusted” financial advisor was buying them high fee mutual funds… and it was costing them thousands of dollars. For example, of the approximately 6 different mutual funds in their portfolio, one of them being the Morgan Stanley Multi Cap Growth Trust (symbol: CPOAX), most of them were high fee investments.

There are different types of fees in your mutual funds that you should be familiar with.Tweet: There are different types of fees in your mutual funds that you should be familiar with. http://ctt.ec/66G7K+ These fees include: sales charges, expense ratios, marketing fees, trading costs and, potentially, financial advisor fees.

How the Average Investor Looks at Investment Performance:

The average investor might visit their financial website; Morningstar, Fidelity, etc. and go to the historical performance section of a fund. For the fund we mentioned earlier (symbol: CPOAX) these sites display a 2015 performance of 7.88%. A nice return considering the stock market was basically even 2015. This is about as far as the average investor will go to understand their investment returns. And at their next kid’s soccer game, they will tell their friends that they had 7.88% in gains in 2015.

But wait; let’s take a look at how much they actually made from a professional view.

How OTA Students Are Taught to Look at Investment Performance:

A professional will not only look at the gross return of 7.88%, but also factor in the cost of owning that fund to determine a net return. In order to determine the net return you need to take out the financial institutions cut.

Below is a screenshot of the Morningstar website for CPOAX fund. You’ll notice all the expenses and fees circled. Here you’ll see the following investment fees: front end sales fees, expense ratio, management fee, 12b-1 fee (or the marketing fee) and administrative fee. Before you can determine your true return on investment, you have to factor out all of these fees.

Before you can determine your true return on investment you have to factor out all of the investment fees.

Let’s assume on the first of January 2015 our investor purchased $10,000 of the Morgan Stanley fund. At the end of 2015 they had a gain of $788 or a 7.88% gross return. Now, let’s take out the fees and expenses to determine what this investor truly made in 2015. The fees for the fund include:

  • - 5.25% Sales charge = ($525)
  • - 1.25% Expense ratio = ($125)
  • - 0.67% Management fee = ($67)
  • - 0.25% 12b-1 or marketing fee = ($25)
  • - 0.08% Administrative fee = ($8)
  • - $15 Trading commission = ($15)
  • - 1.0% Advisor fee = ($100)

The fees for this fund equal, $865.

How to factor your true return on investment after investment fees and commissions have been paid.

If you think about it for a minute, it is your money. However, in this real life scenario you don’t keep any of your profits.

Do you know where your money is invested? If you don’t, you should gain an understanding of your true investment costs. Put on your professional cap and review your statements. The more you know about how the financial system truly works, the more money you will keep. That is our goal at Online Trading Academy, helping you invest wisely and keep more of what you earn.

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