How to read a mutual fund prospectus

If we've learned anything from the current financial crisis, we've learned that it's important to understand what it is we're actually investing in. No more black-box investing, right? That's true of the folks on Wall Street, but it's also true of the average mutual-fund investor, too.

If you invest in mutual funds and you want to understand what you are about to buy, you'll have to thumb through the prospectus and Statement of Additional Information. These two documents tell you what the fund managers intend to do with your money — and how much they're going to charge you for doing it. Unfortunately, this information is usually drowned in a soup of legalese, but the information is there, and I'm going to show you how to find what you need in less than 10 minutes.

You've probably heard the term prospectus, but you may have never heard about the Statement of Additional Information (SAI). The SAI is where the fund's lawyers put all the information they want to hide from the avid prospectus-reading public. Continue reading...

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