What is a mutual fund?
When you invest in a mutual fund, your money is pooled with that of other investors, and then it is managed by a group of professionals who try to earn a return by selecting stocks for the pool.
One key advantage of funds is that they can be less volatile. Simple statistics says that a portfolio is going to experience less volatility than the individual components of the portfolio. After all, individual stocks can and sometimes do go to zero, but if a mutual fund held 50 stocks, it would be very unlikely that all 50 of those stocks become worthless.
The flipside of this reduced volatility is that fund returns can be muted relative to individual stocks. In investing, risk and return are intimately correlated??reduce one, and odds are you will reduce the other. Mutual fund investors must also consider expenses. The professionals running mutual funds do not do so for free. They charge fees, and fees eat into returns