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Mutual Fund Basics

A mutual fund pools the money of many investors to purchase securities. 

The fund’s manager buys securities to pursue a stated investment strategy. By investing in the fund, you’ll own a piece of the total portfolio of securities, which could be anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of stocks. This provides you with a convenient way to obtain instant diversification that would be harder to achieve on your own.

​Types of mutual funds

There are many mutual funds to choose from. The two most common types are stock mutual funds and bond mutual funds. A stock fund invests in common stocks issued by U.S. and/or international companies. Funds are often named and classified according to investment style or objective, which can be stated in various ways. For example, some stock mutual funds buy stocks in companies believed to have potential for long-term growth in share price. Other stock mutual funds look for current income by focusing on companies that pay dividends. Sector funds buy stocks in a particular sector, such as technology or health care. Still other mutual funds may purchase stocks based on the size of the company (e.g., stocks of large, mid-size, or small companies).

Although the name of a stock mutual fund generally offers insight into its investment style and objective, it is important not to rely on the name alone in determining whether a particular fund is what you want. The fund prospectus is like an owner’s manual and contains information about the kind of investment style that the manager(s) employ, and the kinds of stocks that the fund will buy.

Note: Before investing in any mutual fund, carefully consider its investment objectives, risks, fees, and expenses, which are discussed in the prospectus available from the fund. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

A bond fund is made up of debt instruments that governments or corporations issue to raise capital. They are designed to provide investors with interest income in the form of regularly scheduled dividends. If you bought individual bonds, you would need to concern yourself with their maturity dates and the reinvestment of your funds. Buying shares of a bond fund relieves you of these concerns; the fund manager handles them for you.

Bond funds are primarily classified according to the issuers of the bonds in the fund’s portfolio and/or to the term of the bonds. For example, municipal bond funds buy bonds issued by municipalities. The income from these is free from federal tax (however, a portion of the income may be subject to the federal alternative minimum tax) and may be free from state and local taxes. Similarly, some funds invest only in U.S. Treasury debt instruments (e.g., bonds, bills, and notes) or high-grade (or low-grade) corporate bonds. Some bond funds, from all types of issuers, limit themselves to bonds maturing in the short, intermediate, or long term.

There are other types of mutual funds that you will encounter. Funds that invest in both stocks and bonds (or stocks, bonds, and cash alternatives) are often known as balanced funds. A money market fund buys extremely short-term debt instruments and is often used as a place to put cash, short term, until it is needed elsewhere. (Though a money market fund attempts to maintain a $1 per share value, there is no guarantee it will always do so, and it is possible to lose money investing in a money market fund.) Index funds attempt to duplicate a standardized, broad-based index such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) stock index or Moody’s bond index by holding a portfolio of the same securities used by the index in an attempt to match the index’s performance as closely as possible.

What are the benefits of investing in a mutual fund?

Diversification: Most mutual funds own dozens or even hundreds of securities. The managers often spread the fund’s assets over more than one type of investment (e.g., both stocks and bonds, or stocks from a variety of industries). This exposes you to less potential risk than buying just a few individual securities. If some of the fund’s holdings perform poorly, they may be offset by others doing well (though diversification cannot guarantee a profit or ensure against a loss).

Professional money management: When you buy shares in an actively managed mutual fund, part of what you pay for is the fund manager’s expertise. The manager analyzes hundreds of securities (both current and contemplated holdings) and makes decisions on what and when to buy and sell.

Small investment amounts: Depending on fund rules, you can open an account and make subsequent contributions with a very small initial investment. You can even set up automatic investments through a transfer of funds from your bank account.

Liquidity: You can convert your mutual fund investment into cash (i.e., redeem your shares) by making a request to the fund company in writing, over the phone, or on the Internet on any business day.

Of course, mutual funds are not guaranteed investments. The price of all mutual fund shares can change daily, and you’ll receive the current value of your shares when you sell--which may be more or less than you paid. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there can be no assurance that any investing strategy will be successful.

Choosing a fund

Choosing a mutual fund to invest in requires more than picking a fund from the Top 10 list of the best past performers. Choosing a mutual fund requires careful thinking about numerous factors. The most important of these to consider include your investment objectives, risk tolerance, and time horizon.

Sales charge and other costs

All mutual funds have expenses that investors must pay for, but the sales charge, or load, is probably the most significant and varied among funds. These sales charges are generally paid as commissions to stockbrokers, financial advisors, and insurance agents. The sales charge may be deducted at the time you purchase shares of the mutual fund (front-end load), leaving less to work for you, or it may be charged at the point of redemption (back-end load). Some mutual funds, known as no-load funds, have no sales charges.

Pay attention to a mutual fund’s other fees and expenses, as well. Look at a fund’s expense ratio, which is calculated by dividing the fund’s annual expenses by the fund’s average net assets. Expenses affect a fund’s net return. The higher the expense ratio, the less money is being put to work for you.

Turnover ratio

Portfolio turnover reflects the value of a fund’s trades during a year compared to the total value of its assets, and is often used as an indicator of how actively a fund manager trades. If the value of a fund’s trades equals that of its entire portfolio, its turnover ratio would be 100 percent.

Past performance

Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, a fund’s track record over the past 3, 5, and 10 years is certainly worth considering. How does it compare with its peers--funds with similar risk and investment strategies? Apples-to-apples comparisons of funds are difficult, so a variety of broad market indexes are used as comparison benchmarks. For example, the S&P 500 is often used as a proxy for the U.S. stock market as a whole. Examine how well the fund that you are looking at has performed in both good and bad years relative to the most appropriate benchmark index.

Fund managers

One of the advantages of purchasing shares in an actively managed mutual fund is professional money management. The past performance of the fund is a reflection of the fund manager’s ability to effectively manage its assets. You should research the current manager’s history with the fund; was the fund’s performance his or her achievement? If the fund has a new manager, make sure that individual’s investment style matches your expectations.

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Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA / SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. New York Community Bank, New York Commercial Bank and Investment and Insurance Services are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.
 
Not FDIC Insured ​No Bank Guarantee ​Not a Deposit
​May Go Down In Value ​Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency

This site is designed for U.S. residents only. The services offered within this section are available exclusively through our U.S. Investment Representatives. LPL Financial's U.S. Investment Representatives may only conduct business with residents of the states for which they are properly registered. Please note that not all of the investments and services mentioned are available in every state.

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The Divisions of New York Community Bank

Queens County Savings Bank​

Established on April 14, 1859 in the village of Flushing, Queens County Savings Bank was the first savings bank chartered by the State of New York in the New York City borough of Queens. Until then, local residents would need to travel to Manhattan to do their banking; the opening of the borough’s first local bank was accordingly met with elation and relief.

While the bank expanded here and there over the course of the next 14 decades, its greatest growth occurred in just the last 15 years. In anticipation of expanding its franchise through the first of several mergers, the Bank changed its name to New York Community Bank on November 21, 2000. By the end of that year, NYCB had grown from 14 to 86 branches; today, it has more than 220 branches in five states.

In deference to its heritage as a Queens-based institution, the Community Bank operates each of its 38 branches in the county under its original name, Queens County Savings Bank.

Roslyn Savings Bank

Established in 1875, The Roslyn Savings Bank was the first financial institution headquartered in Nassau County, one of two counties--with Suffolk--that constitute Long Island, New York. Its founders wanted to build a bank that would provide the Island’s residents with a safe place for their savings, as well as the financial assistance they’d need to build or purchase homes.

A member of the NYCB Family of Bank since October 31, 2003, Roslyn Savings Bank today serves the Island’s businesses and consumers through 42 conveniently placed branch offices.

Richmond County Savings Bank

A member of the NYCB Family of Banks since July 31, 2001, Richmond County Savings Bank is the third oldest of our divisions, with roots that go back to October 30, 1886. It was then that the bank was established to serve those who lived and worked on Staten Island, and it was less than one year later that it made its first mortgage loan.

Today, nearly every street on the Island has at least one home that was financed by Richmond County Savings Bank.

Originally located in the Odd Fellows Building at the corner of Richmond Terrace and Broadway, the Bank today has 20 convenient banking locations in all.

Roosevelt Savings Bank

Roosevelt Savings Bank was established in 1895 on the corner of Gates Avenue and Broadway in Brooklyn under the name “Eastern District Savings Bank.” In 1920, the bank changed its name to honor the memory of the nation’s 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt.

In February 1999, Roosevelt Savings Bank merged with and into Roslyn Bancorp, which merged with and into New York Community Bancorp, Inc. in October 2003.  Today, Roosevelt Savings Bank serves its customers through seven branches in Brooklyn as a member of the NYCB Family of Banks.

Garden State Community Bank

Garden State Community Bank has been a member of the NYCB Family of Banks since March 2008, when we combined all the branches of four smaller New Jersey-based divisions--First Savings Bank of New Jersey, Ironbound Bank, Penn Federal Savings Bank, and Synergy Bank—into a single division with a highly relatable name.

While Penn Federal Savings Bank and Synergy Bank were directly acquired in 2007, First Savings Bank of New Jersey and Ironbound Bank were acquired in 1999 by Richmond County Financial Corp., which subsequently merged with NYCB.

By combining the strengths of these four local banks with the strengths of our institution, we established a Garden State community bank that offers more products and services, and more convenient locations, than any one of these banks provided on its own.

Today, we serve our customers through 45 branches in Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union Counties, most of which first opened their doors nearly 14 decades ago.

AmTrust Bank

AmTrust Bank is one of the more recent additions to a respected banking family that has been serving customers and communities for more than 156 years.

The first branch of AmTrust Bank opened its doors in the late 1980s, when Ohio Savings Bank opened the first of its branches in south coastal Florida under the “AmTrust Bank” name. Eleven years later, it expanded again--this time to Arizona--and on December 4, 2009, it joined the NYCB Family of Banks. With our acquisition of Desert Hills Bank less than four months later, we further expanded our franchise in the Grand Canyon State.

Currently in its seventh year as an NYCB division, AmTrust Bank serves its customers through 41 convenient branches: 14 in central Arizona and 27 in Florida.

Ohio Savings Bank

Ohio Savings Bank is one of the more recent additions to a respected banking family that has been serving customers and communities for more than 156 years.

Established in 1889 as the Ohio Savings Home Loan and Building Co., the bank’s initial expansion was limited to Ohio until it opened its first Florida branch in 1989. Eleven years later, it expanded again, this time to Arizona. And seven years later, it changed its name to AmTrust Bank.

On December 4, 2009, AmTrust Bank became the newest member of our banking family, the first of our divisions to serve customers in non-contiguous states. Four months later, we elected to pay tribute to its forebear, by operating our 28 branches in Ohio under a more suitable name: Ohio Savings Bank.

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New York Commercial Bank 
 
 
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