American Funds vs others

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Jan 24, 2010 11:48 am

I work for a large mutual insurance company.  I am 2 years in and doing very well by their standards.  I try not to drink the company kool-aid and do a lot of research outside from internet and people in town I trust about cases/products/companies/philosophies/etc.  I am investment licensed though most of my business at this time is ancillary (I am 25) - rollovers under $100, ROTHS, 529s, SEPs...  I am working on my CLU/CHFC and look forward to having a balanced practice some day when I have the knowledge/staff to handle it. 

Our office is NUTS about American Funds, and while I know we have a great rep, I don't see the big deal.  I also notice that on this board their seems to be a general feeling of dislike for American Funds and I would like to hear some input.  My goal is the the best thing for my clients - even if it doesn't make me a company allstar.  We are not inclusive so I can go outside for insurance and we are partnered with 7 MF companies (Alliance Bernstein, Allianz Global Investors, American Century, American Funds, Fidelity, MFS, Russell) but I can go outside on that end as well.

I would like to hear some advice for the business I am doing now but also what I need to be looking for as I move on to bigger fish.

Jan 24, 2010 2:03 pm

American Funds aren't bad, they're just a fund family that does not have any specialized funds. Generally they are very conservative and have a great performing track record (with the exception of 2008 because they were heavily invested in financials).  

 
Pros:
Huge name brand, long track record
Low expense ratios
Funds are basically asset allocation models
Good at value investing
 
Cons:
Not specialized
Lack of diversification
Huge overlaps within the funds
 
American Funds makes up a majority of my 529 plans and Roth IRAs with small monthly contributions.
Jan 24, 2010 2:21 pm

Cons: not much support given back to Advisors.   I like the funds but I use fund families that help me with my business.

Jan 24, 2010 2:52 pm

Pros - None

Cons - It's a mutual fund; Lots of overlap; It's a mutual fund; Little support for advisors; It's a mutual fund

Jan 24, 2010 3:27 pm

Cons - Ticket charge is $85 per trade.

 
 
Makes my choice a little easier.
Jan 24, 2010 6:23 pm

Thanks for the great feedback!  Any insight on some of the other fund companies I mentioned?

Jan 25, 2010 11:35 am
I like certain funds from:
Franklin Templeton (Franklin for fixed income, Mutual Series for deep value global equity, Templeton for Global Fixed Income and Emerging Markets Equity)
PIMCO/Allianz (for fixed income only)
First Eagle (Global)
IVY (Asset Strategy)
and a few others for specific niches.  I will use certain American Funds on occasion, but primarily just their international focused funds.  And I actually like Fundamental Investors for Large cap domestic, but I honestly don't use it much anymore.
 
MFS Global Total Return (one of your fund families) is a pretty good core fund.
Jan 25, 2010 12:08 pm
B24:
I like certain funds from:
Franklin Templeton (Franklin for fixed income, Mutual Series for deep value global equity, Templeton for Global Fixed Income and Emerging Markets Equity)
PIMCO/Allianz (for fixed income only)
First Eagle (Global)
IVY (Asset Strategy)
and a few others for specific niches.  I will use certain American Funds on occasion, but primarily just their international focused funds.  And I actually like Fundamental Investors for Large cap domestic, but I honestly don't use it much anymore.
 
MFS Global Total Return (one of your fund families) is a pretty good core fund.



X2. Weird B, you and I think a lot alike with fund selection. You and I must be the only two guys in the firm that sell some of those families.

For what it's worth, some clients love when you tell the Pimco story to them, especially if they are the type that watch CNBC all the time. One of the few times you don't have to roll your eyes when they mention something they saw there.

As for American Funds, I have always sort of felt that they have like 4 equity funds, just under 20 different names. I don't understand why they don't just consolidate half of their funds, they are all the same anyway. Then they could spend some money on some wholesalers or something.

Jan 25, 2010 2:42 pm
SometimesNowhere:
B24:
I like certain funds from:
Franklin Templeton (Franklin for fixed income, Mutual Series for deep value global equity, Templeton for Global Fixed Income and Emerging Markets Equity)
PIMCO/Allianz (for fixed income only)
First Eagle (Global)
IVY (Asset Strategy)
and a few others for specific niches.  I will use certain American Funds on occasion, but primarily just their international focused funds.  And I actually like Fundamental Investors for Large cap domestic, but I honestly don't use it much anymore.
 
MFS Global Total Return (one of your fund families) is a pretty good core fund.



X2. Weird B, you and I think a lot alike with fund selection. You and I must be the only two guys in the firm that sell some of those families.

For what it's worth, some clients love when you tell the Pimco story to them, especially if they are the type that watch CNBC all the time. One of the few times you don't have to roll your eyes when they mention something they saw there.

As for American Funds, I have always sort of felt that they have like 4 equity funds, just under 20 different names. I don't understand why they don't just consolidate half of their funds, they are all the same anyway. Then they could spend some money on some wholesalers or something.

 
I'll give you one wild guess why they don't consolidate their funds. 
 
But actually, if you pay attention to guidance from Jones, AND from AMF, they will tell you to be sure not to pick similar funds with a lot of overlap.  For example, they would not recommend American and Washington Mutual together.  They would not recommend Income Fund and Capital Income Builder together.
 
Point is, the idea is not to use 5 of their equity funds together.  I don't use them very much anymore, but you can get pretty good equity diversification without much style overlap.  Example:
 
Small Cap World
New World
Capital World Growth & Income
Fundamental Investors
 
 
I'm not saying they are all killer funds, but you can easily get style diversification if you know their funds.  If you want a little more growth, you could sub Eurogrowth for CWGI and Growth Fund for FI.  But then Eurogrowth has some overlap with New World (but not a lot).
 
Jan 25, 2010 2:45 pm
ChrisVarick:

American Funds aren't bad, they're just a fund family that does not have any specialized funds. Generally they are very conservative and have a great performing track record (with the exception of 2008 because they were heavily invested in financials).  

 
Pros:
Huge name brand, long track record
Low expense ratios
Funds are basically asset allocation models
Good at value investing
 
Cons:
Not specialized
Lack of diversification
Huge overlaps within the funds
 
American Funds makes up a majority of my 529 plans and Roth IRAs with small monthly contributions.

The reason their track record looks good is because they had int'l in all their fund and the int'l took off. If you look outside that time frame they are essentially index funds..
Jan 25, 2010 2:46 pm
Moraen:

Pros - None

Cons - It's a mutual fund; Lots of overlap; It's a mutual fund; Little support for advisors; It's a mutual fund

agreed
Jan 25, 2010 2:49 pm
SometimesNowhere:
B24:
I like certain funds from:
Franklin Templeton (Franklin for fixed income, Mutual Series for deep value global equity, Templeton for Global Fixed Income and Emerging Markets Equity)
PIMCO/Allianz (for fixed income only)
First Eagle (Global)
IVY (Asset Strategy)
and a few others for specific niches.  I will use certain American Funds on occasion, but primarily just their international focused funds.  And I actually like Fundamental Investors for Large cap domestic, but I honestly don't use it much anymore.
 
MFS Global Total Return (one of your fund families) is a pretty good core fund.



X2. Weird B, you and I think a lot alike with fund selection. You and I must be the only two guys in the firm that sell some of those families.

For what it's worth, some clients love when you tell the Pimco story to them, especially if they are the type that watch CNBC all the time. One of the few times you don't have to roll your eyes when they mention something they saw there.

As for American Funds, I have always sort of felt that they have like 4 equity funds, just under 20 different names. I don't understand why they don't just consolidate half of their funds, they are all the same anyway. Then they could spend some money on some wholesalers or something.



Hope you weren't serious... Because those are the funds and fund families everyone uses..
Jan 25, 2010 2:50 pm

"The reason their track record looks good is because they had int'l in all their fund and the int'l took off. If you look outside that time frame they are essentially index funds.. "

 
BINGO! And they INSIST on using the SP500 to benchmark funds that not only are full of global, but also full of bonds! Good way to look good for sales presentations, though.
Jan 25, 2010 3:33 pm

As far as fund companies go, they are a good foundation, but they do have TONS of overlap - all large cap too.  It tends to make them a well managed index fund.  I would not recommend using them for an entire portfolio.  You will not get good representation of other asset classes.


They do have a good track record and are very well managed.  Just understand thier limitations.
Jan 25, 2010 3:39 pm

They are very easy to "liquidate and transfer" to a managed account - once a prospect sees the the fact that they have 3-5 funds owning roughly the same stocks (Morningstar Stock Intersection Xray Report). For that reason I love them.

Jan 26, 2010 1:44 am

I start using American funds first few years of my career but the ex wholesaler was stingy about helping in building my business. He said something about low expenses so switched to Franklin funds and now have about 20 mil with Franklin in 4 years.   

Jan 26, 2010 7:26 am

Much better if you're gonna use mfds

Jan 26, 2010 8:36 am

I hate franklin.... Their int'l funds are terrible, that Founding fund allocation is a joke...

Jan 26, 2010 8:46 am

exactly why having a client in one break point at 1 family is going the way of the dodo bird....

Jan 26, 2010 10:02 am
Squash1:
SometimesNowhere:
B24:
I like certain funds from:
Franklin Templeton (Franklin for fixed income, Mutual Series for deep value global equity, Templeton for Global Fixed Income and Emerging Markets Equity)
PIMCO/Allianz (for fixed income only)
First Eagle (Global)
IVY (Asset Strategy)
and a few others for specific niches.  I will use certain American Funds on occasion, but primarily just their international focused funds.  And I actually like Fundamental Investors for Large cap domestic, but I honestly don't use it much anymore.
 
MFS Global Total Return (one of your fund families) is a pretty good core fund.



X2. Weird B, you and I think a lot alike with fund selection. You and I must be the only two guys in the firm that sell some of those families.

For what it's worth, some clients love when you tell the Pimco story to them, especially if they are the type that watch CNBC all the time. One of the few times you don't have to roll your eyes when they mention something they saw there.

As for American Funds, I have always sort of felt that they have like 4 equity funds, just under 20 different names. I don't understand why they don't just consolidate half of their funds, they are all the same anyway. Then they could spend some money on some wholesalers or something.



Hope you weren't serious... Because those are the funds and fund families everyone uses..
 
If you are asking if I was serious about most other FA's not using those funds, I am. It's part of the culture, for the good or bad (and has been well documented here on this forum). We've been carrying American Fund's purse for them for years, and just now it seems there is finally some movement from FA's here not to sell them exclusively and to at least look at some other preferred fund families. So far as Pimco, First Eagle, Ivy, MFS (up until recently when we let them in the club) you won't here anyone around here talking about them with any real conviction.
 
Some of the greatest funds available rarely get any discussion here, and you will see A TON of portfolios, even larger ones (by EDJ standards) with only like 4-5 American Funds in them. In fact, I had a client come in the other day that wanted to move their account from another Jones branch out of state that had $250k with like $80k in AIVSX, and another $40k in some other fund that looked a lot like it (I don't remember which one). All in all, almost 80% of their account was in some mix of similar American Funds. Ridiculous...