Why not just invest in index funds?
Here are some reasons why one might choose not to invest in index funds: Desire for Active Management: Some investors prefer to actively manage their portfolios and believe they can outperform the market or achieve specific investment goals by selecting individual stocks or actively managed funds.
One of the main reasons is that some investors believe they can outperform the market by actively selecting individual stocks or actively managed funds. While this is possible, it is not easy, and many studies have shown that the majority of active investors fail to beat the market consistently over the long term.
Investing in index funds has long been considered one of the smartest investment moves you can make. Index funds are affordable, enable diversification, and tend to generate attractive returns over time. Historically, index funds outperform other types of funds that are actively managed by top investment firms.
The benefits of index investing include low cost, requires little financial knowledge, convenience, and provides diversification. Disadvantages include the lack of downside protection, no choice in index composition, and it cannot beat the market (by definition).
If you're new to investing, you can absolutely start off by buying index funds alone as you learn more about how to choose the right stocks. But as your knowledge grows, you may want to branch out and add different companies to your portfolio that you feel align well with your personal risk tolerance and goals.
It might actually lead to unwanted losses. Investors that only invest in the S&P 500 leave themselves exposed to numerous pitfalls: Investing only in the S&P 500 does not provide the broad diversification that minimizes risk. Economic downturns and bear markets can still deliver large losses.
The one time it's okay to choose a single investment
That's because your investment gives you access to the broad stock market. Meanwhile, if you only invest in S&P 500 ETFs, you won't beat the broad market. Rather, you can expect your portfolio's performance to be in line with that of the broad market.
ETFs are more tax efficient than index funds because they are structured to have fewer taxable events. As mentioned previously, an index mutual fund must constantly rebalance to match the tracked index and therefore generates taxable capital gains for shareholders.
Even the top investors put their money in index funds.
In fact, a number of billionaire investors count S&P 500 index funds among their top holdings. Among those are Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Dalio's Bridgewater, and Griffin's Citadel.
Index funds are great foundations for many investment portfolios. They're a low-cost way to get diversified exposure to almost any financial market segment. While you can pay a little extra for active management, this isn't necessary and often isn't even profitable.
What is one disadvantage of an index?
The first and perhaps most obvious drawback of adding indexes is that they take up additional storage space. The exact amount of space depends on the size of the table and the number of columns in the index, but it's usually a small percentage of the total size of the table.
The important thing to remember about index funds is that they should be long-term holds. This means that a short-term recession should not affect your investments.
Index funds may be structured as exchange-traded funds (index ETFs). These products are portfolios of stocks that are managed by a professional financial firm, in which each share represents a small ownership stake in the entire portfolio.
While index funds are free from the fund manager bias, they are still vulnerable to the risk of tracking error. It is the extent to which the index fund does not track the index.
The addition of too many funds simply creates an expensive index fund. This notion is based on the fact that having too many funds negates the impact that any single fund can have on performance, while the expense ratios of multiple funds generally add up to a number that is greater than average.
If the fund is held in a traditional retirement account (IRA/401k) there are no taxes until money is withdrawn from the account and then it is all considered ordinary taxable income in the year it is withdrawn. If the fund is held in a Roth retirement account there are no taxes on the income or withdrawals.
Index funds are a low-cost way to invest, provide better returns than most fund managers, and help investors to achieve their goals more consistently. On the other hand, many indexes put too much weight on large-cap stocks and lack the flexibility of managed funds.
The key to keeping your money safe
The index itself has a long history of earning positive returns over time and recovering from downturns. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to investing, opting for an S&P 500 index fund or ETF is about as close to guaranteed long-term returns as you can get.
The S&P 500 is a well-known stock market index — and a major buzzword in financial news — and investors often wonder how to invest in it. The answer: You can't directly invest in a stock market index, but you can choose investments that mirror or reflect the performance of that index.
Think About This: $10,000 invested in the S&P 500 at the beginning of 2000 would have grown to $32,527 over 20 years — an average return of 6.07% per year.
What is the 20 year return of the S&P 500?
The historical average yearly return of the S&P 500 is 9.69% over the last 20 years, as of the end of December 2023.
The bottom line on the S&P 500
But this index does have some shortcomings. Its market-cap weightings may favor some companies, or sectors, over others; the bandwidth doesn't always reflect the entire domestic stock market, and it excludes companies that aren't based in the US.
Investors who buy index funds will not lose all of their investment. That's because they're investments buoyed by hundreds or thousands of underlying securities. As such, they're highly diversified, making it almost impossible for them to reach a value of zero.
Yes, it can make sense to invest in multiple index funds as part of a diversified investment portfolio. Diversification is an important investment strategy that can help reduce overall risk and increase potential returns.
Warren Buffett has regularly recommended that investors put their money in an S&P 500 index fund. The S&P 500 has returned roughly 10% annually over the long term. The Vanguard S&P 500 ETF provides exposure to many of the most influential companies in the world.