Comparing Mutual Funds Performance

How to Compare Mutual Funds Performance

Navigating the labyrinthine realm of investment demands clarity and precision, especially when it comes to evaluating the performance of mutual funds. For both seasoned investors weathered by market storms and newcomers tentatively stepping into the finance fray, the question remains:

How do you discern the true stars from the underperformers in the mutual fund universe?

It's a question that reverberates with the weight of financial security and future prosperity. Fear not, for this blog post is your beacon amidst the murky waters of investment ambiguity.

Here, we embark on an enlightening journey through the intricate landscape of comparing mutual fund performance.

Armed with insights sharper than a Wall Street trader's wit and tools more potent than a bull market surge, you'll emerge equipped to make investment decisions that resonate with confidence and foresight.

Whether you're a seasoned investor, honing your strategy with surgical precision, or a neophyte, tentatively tiptoeing into the world of finance, this guide is your trusty compass.

Together, we'll unravel the enigma of mutual fund performance, transforming complexity into clarity, and confusion into confidence. Prepare to decode the mutual fund performance puzzle and unlock the secrets to securing your financial destiny.

Understanding Mutual Fund Performance

Mutual Funds

Before you can begin comparing mutual funds performance, it is essential to grasp what "performance" actually means in the world of mutual funds.

Performance is the measure of how well a mutual fund has achieved its investment objectives, relative to its peers within the same category. Understanding this definition is key to ensuring that you can accurately evaluate and compare different funds.

Key Metrics to Assess Performance

There are several metrics to consider when analyzing mutual fund performance. These can range from basic returns to risk-adjusted returns and beyond. For example:

Basic returns

Basic returns refer to the overall gain or loss generated by an investment over a specific period, typically expressed as a percentage.

This metric simply measures the difference between the initial investment and the final value, including any dividends or interest earned.

Risk-adjusted returns

Risk-adjusted returns take into account the level of risk associated with achieving the investment returns. In other words, it evaluates the return generated relative to the amount of risk taken.

This metric helps investors assess whether the returns achieved justify the level of risk undertaken. Common measures of risk-adjusted returns include the Sharpe ratio, which considers the volatility of returns, and the Sortino ratio, which focuses on downside risk.

Expense ratio

The expense ratio represents the percentage of a mutual fund's assets that are used to cover its operating expenses, including management fees, administrative costs, and other overhead expenses. This ratio is deducted directly from the fund's assets, which can impact the fund's overall returns.

A lower expense ratio is generally preferred by investors because it means more of the fund's returns are passed on to investors. Therefore, the expense ratio is an important metric to consider when assessing the cost-effectiveness of a mutual fund investment.

Analyzing Mutual Fund Categories

Analyzing Mutual Fund Categories

Mutual funds are not a one-size-fits-all investment instrument. There are various types of mutual funds, each with distinct features and investment strategies.

Common categories include equity funds, fixed-income funds, and balanced funds. Understanding the nuances of each category and the benchmarks against which their performance is compared is crucial when assessing how a fund is doing.

Equity Funds

Equity funds are a type of mutual fund or investment fund that primarily invests in stocks or equities. When you invest in an equity fund, you're essentially pooling your money with other investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks. Here's how equity funds work:

Investment Strategy: Equity funds vary widely in their investment strategies. Some may focus on specific sectors (such as technology, healthcare, or energy), while others may invest across various sectors and market capitalizations (large-cap, mid-cap, small-cap). The fund's investment strategy is outlined in its prospectus, which also details its objectives, risks, and fees.

Diversification: One of the key benefits of equity funds is diversification. By investing in a variety of stocks across different industries and companies, the fund spreads risk. This reduces the impact of poor performance by any single stock on the overall portfolio.

Professional Management: Equity funds are managed by professional fund managers or management teams who make investment decisions on behalf of the fund's investors. These managers conduct research, analyze market trends, and select stocks they believe will generate returns in line with the fund's objectives.

Risk and Return: Equity funds are subject to market risk, meaning their returns can fluctuate based on the performance of the stock market. Generally, they offer higher potential returns compared to fixed-income investments like bonds or savings accounts, but they also come with higher volatility and risk.

Liquidity: Equity funds typically offer high liquidity, meaning you can buy or sell your shares on any business day at the fund's net asset value (NAV).

Types of Equity Funds:

Index Funds: These funds aim to replicate the performance of a specific market index, such as the S&P 500. They typically have lower management fees because they require less active management.

Actively Managed Funds: These funds have managers who actively buy and sell stocks in an attempt to outperform the market or achieve specific investment goals.

Sector Funds: These funds focus on specific sectors or industries, such as technology, healthcare, or consumer goods.

Market Capitalization Funds: Funds may focus on stocks of companies with different market capitalizations, such as large-cap, mid-cap, or small-cap.

Fixed-Income Funds

Fixed-income funds, also known as bond funds, are investment funds that primarily invest in fixed-income securities such as bonds, treasury bills, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, and other debt instruments.

These funds aim to generate returns for investors through interest income payments and potential capital appreciation. Here's how fixed-income funds work:

Investment Strategy: Fixed-income funds typically follow a strategy of investing in a diversified portfolio of bonds or other fixed-income securities. The fund's investment objectives, risk profile, and duration are outlined in its prospectus.

Income Generation: Fixed-income funds primarily generate returns for investors through interest income payments from the bonds held in the portfolio. Bonds typically pay periodic interest payments, known as coupon payments, which are distributed to fund investors.

Principal Value and Capital Appreciation: In addition to interest income, fixed-income funds may also generate returns through changes in the market value of the bonds held in the portfolio. When interest rates fall, bond prices tend to rise, leading to capital appreciation for bondholders. Conversely, when interest rates rise, bond prices tend to fall, potentially resulting in capital losses.

Risk and Return: Fixed-income funds are generally considered less volatile than equity funds and offer lower potential returns. However, they still carry risks, including interest rate risk, credit risk (default risk), inflation risk, and liquidity risk.

Liquidity: Fixed-income funds typically offer high liquidity, allowing investors to buy or sell shares on any business day at the fund's net asset value (NAV).

Types of Fixed-Income Funds:

Government Bond Funds: These funds primarily invest in bonds issued by governments, such as treasury bonds, treasury bills, and agency bonds.

Corporate Bond Funds: These funds invest in bonds issued by corporations. They may focus on investment-grade bonds (higher credit quality) or high-yield bonds (lower credit quality, also known as junk bonds).

Municipal Bond Funds: Municipal bond funds invest in bonds issued by state and local governments. The interest income from these bonds is often exempt from federal taxes and may be exempt from state and local taxes for investors residing in the issuing state.

Bond Index Funds: Similar to equity index funds, bond index funds aim to replicate the performance of a specific bond index, such as the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index.

High-Yield Bond Funds: Also known as junk bond funds, these funds invest in lower-rated bonds with higher yields but also a higher risk of default.

Balanced Funds

Balanced funds, also known as hybrid funds, are a type of investment fund that combines both stocks (equities) and bonds (fixed-income securities) within a single portfolio.

The primary objective of balanced funds is to provide investors with a diversified investment option that offers exposure to both asset classes, thereby potentially reducing overall portfolio risk while still aiming for capital appreciation.

Here are some key features of balanced funds:

Asset Allocation: Balanced funds typically have a predefined asset allocation strategy that specifies the percentage of the portfolio allocated to equities and fixed-income securities. The allocation can vary depending on the fund's investment objectives, risk tolerance, and market conditions. For example, a balanced fund may have a 60% allocation to equities and a 40% allocation to fixed-income securities.

Diversification: By investing in both stocks and bonds, balanced funds aim to spread risk across different asset classes. This diversification can help mitigate the impact of market volatility on the overall portfolio performance. Additionally, within each asset class, balanced funds may hold a diversified mix of securities, further enhancing diversification.

Investment Goals: Balanced funds cater to investors with different risk profiles and investment goals. Some balanced funds may focus more on capital preservation and income generation, making them suitable for conservative investors seeking steady returns and lower volatility. Others may have a growth-oriented approach, aiming for capital appreciation over the long term, which may appeal to investors with a higher risk tolerance.

Professional Management: Like other types of mutual funds, balanced funds are managed by professional portfolio managers or management teams who make investment decisions on behalf of the fund's investors. These managers employ various strategies to achieve the fund's stated objectives, such as selecting individual stocks and bonds, adjusting asset allocation based on market conditions, and conducting research to identify investment opportunities.

Risk and Return: The risk and return profile of balanced funds can vary depending on the underlying asset allocation and investment strategy. Generally, balanced funds offer a balance between the potential for capital appreciation (from equities) and income generation/stability (from fixed-income securities). They tend to be less volatile than pure equity funds but may offer higher returns than pure fixed-income funds over the long term.

Liquidity: Balanced funds typically offer high liquidity, allowing investors to buy or sell shares on any business day at the fund's net asset value (NAV).

Factors Influencing Mutual Funds Performance

Performance is influenced by a host of factors, some within the fund's control and others external. Understanding these will help you interpret a fund’s past performance and predict its potential future performance.

Market conditions, the expertise of the fund manager, and the fund’s investment strategies and goals all play a significant role.

Market Conditions

The market is inherently volatile, and mutual fund performance is not immune to its fluctuations. A fund’s performance history may look drastically different in bull markets compared to bear markets.

Recognizing and accounting for these conditions is essential to forecast how a fund might perform going forward.

Fund Manager Expertise

A skilled fund manager can often be the difference between a fund that outperforms its peers and one that underwhelms.

Assessing a manager’s track record and approach to investments is a vital step in the comparison process.

Investment Strategy and Goals

A fund’s investment strategy, such as growth or value investing, and its stated goals, like capital preservation or aggressive growth, directly affect its performance.

These should be aligned with your personal investment objectives for the best chance of a successful outcome.

Tools to Compare Mutual Funds Performance: Wisesheets

The digital age has ushered in an array of tools and resources that simplify the process of comparing mutual funds' performance. Online platforms now offer a wealth of data that can be filtered and sorted to your specific needs.

These tools are invaluable for any investor, from charts that display historical performance against benchmarks to tables that list every statistic you could dream of.

Fortunately, you can unlock unparalleled potential in Mutual Funds Analysis with Wisesheets, the quintessential Excel and Google Sheets add-on. Our mission is singular: to empower every investor, regardless of expertise, to effortlessly identify lucrative investment prospects.

Wisesheets boasts a myriad of robust features and comprehensive stock data, including ETFs and funds, financials, key metrics, dividend information, real-time price updates, and much more.

Utilizing the WISEFUNDS Function

This function is best used for obtaining ETF and fund data like expense ratio, net asset value, assets under management, and many more (see data available per function).

The WISEFUNDS function syntax is =WISEFUNDS("ticker/s", "parameter/s")

  • Ticker/s [required]: The symbol/s of the ETF/Fund you are looking to get data for. It can be hardcoded i.e. "SPY" or a cell reference i.e A1.
  • Parameter/s [required]: The data you are looking to get with the function. This accepts multiple parameters or a single parameter.

Here are a few examples of valid function calls:

=WISEFUNDS("SPY","Expense Ratio")


Pulling Large Data Requests

Instead of making many function data requests at once, you can get data faster by using ranges in the functions.

All you need to do is enter a range of parameters and/or tickers instead of a single parameter. You can see how that works in this example:

As you can see, the function is getting all these real-time parameters for many different funds in a single function call. This saves you a lot of time and makes your spreadsheet faster.

Wisesheets Templates: Mutual Fund Comparison

Wisesheets makes it easy for you to start your analysis faster by providing pre-made templates built by us and our community.

ETF/Fund comparison spreadsheet

You can download and modify the templates however you'd like, including our ETF/Fund Comparison Template.

ETF/Fund Comparison Template Google Sheets

ETF/Fund Comparison Template Excel

Once you create a copy of the template, you will be able to customize your spreadsheet to analyze Mutual Funds Performance that you'd like to compare.

Templates include:

  • DCF's
  • Stock trackers
  • Analysis dashboards
  • And many more…


The evaluation of mutual funds performance is both an art and a science. It requires a blend of quantitative analysis, realistic expectations, and a forward-looking perspective.

This blog post aimed to equip you with a comprehensive understanding of the process, from defining what performance means to providing the tools you need to dig into the numbers for yourself. Remember, a well-informed investor is an empowered investor.

Take the time to compare mutual fund performance, and may your investment endeavors be as prosperous as they are thoughtful.

Guillermo Valles
 | Website

Hello! I'm a finance enthusiast who fell in love with the world of finance at 15, devouring Warren Buffet's books and streaming Berkshire Hathaway meetings like a true fan.

I started my career in the industry at one of Canada's largest REITs, where I honed my skills analyzing and facilitating over a billion dollars in commercial real estate deals.

My passion led me to the stock market, but I quickly found myself spending more time gathering data than analyzing companies.

That's when my team and I created Wisesheets, a tool designed to automate the stock data gathering process, with the ultimate goal of helping anyone quickly find good investment opportunities.

Today, I juggle improving Wisesheets and tending to my stock portfolio, which I like to think of as a garden of assets and dividends. My journey from a finance-loving teenager to a tech entrepreneur has been a thrilling ride, full of surprises and lessons.

I'm excited for what's next and look forward to sharing my passion for finance and investing with others!

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