How to Find Out What’s Really Inside Your Mutual Fund

Warren Buffett has earned himself a reputation as the world’s greatest investor and a huge fan of index funds . Funds are essentially one large investment made up of a group of individuals. If you enjoy set-and-forget lazy investing, you are familiar with them. But how do you know what exactly is in your fund?

There are several reasons why you might want to analyze your index fund. Maybe you don’t want to be invested in certain companies . Maybe you want to make sure that you are definitely investing in others. Maybe you’re just curious! Whatever your reason, it’s much easier than you think to see what specific assets or investments make up your fund.

Get a simple resume

For a simple summary, simply go to Yahoo Finance and search for the stock’s ticker symbol. For example, if you want to know what is inside VTSAX, Vanguard’s popular general stock index fund, simply enter VTSAX and you will see this:

The “Best Holdings” section presents the ten most valuable companies included in this fund. If you click on the Holdings tab, you will also see which industries you have invested in. If you go to a site like Morningstar , you’ll see your top 25 assets.

Get a complete overview

However, funds are made up of hundreds or even thousands of individual investments. If you want to see every company in this fund, go to the investment company website.

For example, since VTSAX is a Vanguard foundation, you must go to the Vanguard website and enter the symbol. From there, you will see another summary of information. If you go to the Performance section, you will see the main assets, but click the Portfolio Assets link and you will be taken to a page that includes the many companies that make up the VTSAX fund so you can see exactly what you have invested in.

Other popular firms such as Fidelity and Charles Schwab will use a similar language. When looking for a fund, look for the phrase “holdings”, “components” or “composition”.

If you cannot find a complete list of holdings there, look for a fund brochure. A prospectus is essentially a report that includes all the details of a fund in one place. Here are some resources to find:

If you have a foundation in a small firm and cannot find what you are looking for, you can simply call the firm and ask directly.

Find your foundation first

Perhaps you have no idea what funds you invested in the first place – for example, you have a 401 (k) number that you signed up for at work, and you just do not know what is invested in it.

Your account statement should include a summary of the funds you have invested in, and then you can simply examine those funds using the steps above – easy! Your investment company’s website should allow you to search for a fund and offer a prospectus. Otherwise, you can contact them again and ask for it.

Sites like FeeX and Personal Capital can also analyze the contents of your investment account. You link your account (s) to a site (just like with Mint.com ) and they analyze your investments and break down your holdings so you can see exactly what funds you’ve invested in.

These tools are useful because they will also give you additional information about your investments. FeeX looks for cheaper alternative funds , for example, and Personal Capital will let you know if your portfolio is balanced correctly.

You don’t need to be Gordon Gekko to start investing, you just need a simple, lazy portfolio to buy and hold . This could mean signing a plan at work, opening a simple target date fund, or even using a robo-consultant to do the work for you . However, with these methods, you may not be sure exactly what you have invested in. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to find out.

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