Using the FINRA Fund Analyzer
FINRA Fund Analyzer Overview
What is the FINRA Fund Analyzer?
Originally introduced in 2005, the FINRA Fund Analyzer helps investors and financial professionals understand the impact of fees and potentially potential available discounts on mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, exchange-traded notes and money market funds. The Fund Analyzer allows individuals to sort through and compare more than 30,000 products available to investors today and calculates how a fund's fees, expenses and discounts impact the value of a fund over time. With a focus on the impact of fund fees and expenses as well as account-based fees, investors can better determine which funds might best meet their investing needs at the lowest cost while providing the best value.
Why Use the FINRA Fund Analyzer?
The FINRA Fund Analyzer includes a powerful suite of features designed to allow investors and financial professionals to research and visualize a wide-range of investing scenarios. For example:
- The information display clearly highlights what the future value and total cost of a fund might be at the end of their holding period as well as how their costs and values may change over time.
- Advanced features examine the impact of wrap account and flat fees on the costs and future value of funds.
- An innovative display helps visualize how a fund's annual operating expenses compare to their product and share class peers, encouraging investors to potentially explore less expensive options.
- New functionality allows investors to accurately model the impact of annual contributions and withdrawals on their overall investment, better representing typical investor behaviors.
- Common discounts such as Rights of Accumulation and Letters of Intent can now be modeled, resulting in a more precise analysis for investors who take advantage of these discounts.
- Investors and professionals can model how changing rates of return might impact costs and future values.
- Fund-by-fund details regarding potential discounts funds may offer to investors are available.
- Quickly obtain a fund's past performance, learn how they are rated by Morningstar and access important fund documentation.
- Use your preferred device to view the Analyzer optimized for a desktop web browser, phone or tablet.
Search for your desired mutual fund, ETF, ETN or Money Market fund by entering any of the following:
- Fund Name (i.e. ABC Capital Appreciation Fund)
- Ticker Symbol (i.e. ABCDX)
- Fund Family Name (i.e. Aberdeen, Janus, Vanguard)
- Keyword (i.e. aggressive, conservative, balanced, etc.)
The quick results will show the closest matches to your search term based on the fund name, ticker, fund family or keyword. The Analyzer will also search for matches in Prospectus Objective and Morningstar Category.
To select a fund, simply click the "Select" box or the fund row. Your selected funds will appear in your selection basket at the bottom of the page. You can select up to three funds to compare. To select other funds, you can delete individual funds from the basket by clicking the "X" in the upper right corner of the particular fund box, or delete all of your selected funds by clicking the "Clear List" button.
Clicking on the "View Fund Details" link will display the fund details page in a separate window.
You can sort the search results quickly by clicking on the column headers.
Save funds to your Favorite Funds list by clicking on the heart icon in the right-hand column. Remove them from your Favorites by clicking the heart again.
Click the "Analyze" button to review and compare your funds' cost and performance.
Using Search Filters to Find Funds
The Fund Analyzer includes a powerful suite of search filters. These filters can easily narrow down the 30,000+ funds within the Analyzer to your desired funds.
To use filtered search, on the Analyzer home page, click either the "Filtered Search" link or click any desired filters while viewing your search results. You can filter by any regular keyword or name search. Your search results will automatically be reduced as you set additional filters. To clear the filters you've set, simply click the "Reset" button.
Understanding Analyzer Results
When you first click "Analyze" the Fund Analyzer will calculate the total costs and future values (after expenses) of your selected funds. The initial display will show the results for the following investment parameters:
- Initial Contribution: $10,000.00
- Rate of Return: 5%
- Holding Period: 10 years
You can change any of the above values by clicking them and entering the desired values for your scenario. The Analyzer will update its calculations automatically. Click "Read more" in the Summary section to display details of the items in this section.
The Future Value after the deduction of fees and expenses, at the holding period noted, will be displayed.
A chart displays the component costs impacting your scenario. These include the annual operating expenses, front- and back-loads (CDSC) and any account-level fees (entered via the Advanced Options section). You can view the details of each item in the rows below the chart. Clicking "View Details" will display additional information like operating expense rates and changes, front- or back-load schedules and a breakdown of the account-level fees (if entered).
You can use the left menu to quickly jump from one section of the report to another.
Annual Operating Expenses
The Analyzer compares each of your selected fund's annual operating expenses to the average annual operating expense rate for similar funds based on the product type, share class and respective Morningstar Prospectus Objective, Morningstar Category or Morningstar 3-Year Star Rating. Average expense values for each subset of funds are shown alongside your fund's expense rate(s).
Clicking on "Read more" will provide detailed information. You can also mouse over each dot to see where other funds may fall in the operating expense comparison.
Fund Costs and Value Over Time
The Fund Analyzer will calculate and graph the total costs, future values, contributions and withdrawals of your selected funds. Additionally, it will display all the data for every year of your investment scenario.
The total costs of your fund(s) within your defined investing scenario are shown. You can display the account-level or fund cost by mousing over any of the data bars. You can turn on/off the display of any specific fund by clicking its name in the legend. Account costs will only be shown if you defined them in the Advanced Options section.
The future values of your fund(s) after the deduction of all costs are shown. You can display the values by mousing over any of the data points. Turn on/off the display of any specific fund by clicking on its name in the legend.
Contributions and Withdrawals
The Analyzer will chart your initial contribution, future contributions and withdrawals. Future contributions and withdrawals must be defined in the Advanced Options section. You can display the values by mousing over any of the data bars. Turn on/off the display of any specific fund by clicking on its name in the legend.
Fund Analysis Data
The Data tab will display the detailed data from the analysis. Scroll down to view the data for each of your selected funds. You can download the data tables in CSV format by clicking the "Download as CSV" button.
The Analyzer includes data on available discounts reported by each fund. To view this data, click "View Details." To view additional information about other potential discounts, click the fund's name in the column header to open the fund's detail page. Click the "Read more" link to see view definitions of these discounts.
Average Annual Return
The average annual returns, as reported by Morningstar, are displayed for your selected fund(s).
Morningstar does not adjust total returns for sales charges (such as front-end loads, deferred loads and redemption fees), preferring to give a clearer picture of performance. Total returns do account for the expense ratio, which includes management fees, administrative fees, 12b-1 fees and other costs that are taken out of assets.
The 3-year Morningstar Star-Rating, Morningstar Equities and Bonds Style Boxes, and the fund's minimum purchase amount are displayed. Click on "Read more" will view detailed information.
Sharing the Results of Your Analysis
You can easily share the results of your fund analysis with others using the "Share" function.
- Click "Share" in the left menu while viewing either the analyzer results or any fund's detail page.
- An email form will display, allowing you to enter up to 20 email addresses (separated by commas), your email address, a subject line and a short message.
- Click "Send" to send the email. The recipient(s) will receive a message containing a link to the Analyzer which will display your fund analysis including any investment parameters and advanced options you entered. The link is valid for 90 days.
Printing or Saving Your Analysis
- Click the "Print" icon in the left menu while viewing either the analyzer results or any fund's detail page.
- The analyzer will open a new display of the analysis optimized for printing and your browser's print dialog box will be opened automatically.
- You may either print the report or save the report as a PDF to your computer. The Analyzer no longer generates a PDF automatically.
- Once printed or saved, close the printer-friendly version.
Using the Advanced Options
To open the Fund Analyzer's suite of advanced calculations, click the "Advanced Options" link in the upper-right of the report page. This will not be visible until you have selected your fund(s) and clicked the "Analyze" button to display the Analyzer's report.
For example, to enter future contributions, click "Advanced Options" and "Future Contributions" to open the entry panel for Future Contributions. From here you can turn on/off contributions, set the annual contribution and the time span for your contributions.
To define future contributions, open the entry panel and toggle on "Do you plan to make Future Contributions?," enter the contribution amount you wish to make annually, then define the starting and ending years for your contributions by dragging the start/end year points as desired.
Future Contributions do not need to be equal to your initial contribution. They may start as early as the year following your initial contribution or begin in a year later in your time horizon. Initial and future contributions are made at the beginning of each year. Note that contributions must end before any withdrawals may begin.
Once your options are defined, save your Future Contributions by clicking the "ANALYZE" button to re-run your analysis.
Once saved, the Future Contributions entry panel will close and you will see a small panel with the settings you selected. Click the pencil icon to edit your settings. Click the trash can to delete all your Future Contribution settings.
To define annual withdrawals, open the entry panel and toggle on "Do you plan to make Annual Withdrawals,?" define the starting and ending years for your withdrawals by dragging the start/end year points as desired, and select the type of withdrawal scenario you want. Withdrawals are taken at the end of each year in the withdrawal period you specify.
The Analyzer can accommodate three types of withdrawals:
- Withdrawals ending at $0.00 – The Analyzer will determine the proper withdrawal amount to make for the years you selected to bring the account value to $0.00 once the final withdrawal year passes.
- End Value Goal Amount – When you select this option, you will be prompted to enter your desired account value at the end of your withdrawal period. For example, if you enter $25,000, the Analyzer will determine the proper withdrawal amount to bring your account value to $25,000 at the end of the withdrawal period. Depending on the end year you select, this account value will then grow at the rate of return you specified.
- Custom Withdrawal Amount – You may enter an amount you want the Analyzer to withdraw each year from the starting year to the end year of the withdrawal period you select. For example, if you enter $10,000, the Analyzer will withdraw $10,000 for each year of the withdrawal period. Any remaining account balance will be determined and, depending on the end year you select, will then grow at the rate of return you specified.
Once saved, the Annual Withdrawals entry panel will close and you will see a small panel with the settings you selected. Click the pencil icon to edit your settings. Click the trash can to delete all your Annual Withdrawal settings.
You may track the value of your existing assets separately from any annual contributions. Your existing assets may use a different expense ratio and return than your contributed assets. If you define a withdrawal scenario, once withdrawals start, the return and expense ratio associated with contributed assets will apply to any existing assets. The Analyzer will assume that, just prior to the first withdrawal, all assets are transferred into the same share class (if they were in different classes) using a no-fee exchange privilege. If there are no withdrawals, the return and expense ratio entered in this section always applies. Checking “Exclude Existing Assets from results?” will include your existing assets in calculations but will remove the amounts from the display of results. This can make assessing your contributions easier.
Once saved, the Existing Assets entry panel will close and you will see a small panel with the settings you selected. Click the pencil icon to edit your settings. Click the trash can to delete all your Existing Assets and Rights of Accumulation settings.
Rights of Accumulation
By entering the amount of your assets that are eligible for Rights of Accumulation (ROA), discounts (breakpoints) will be determined. With higher account values, breakpoints are hit more quickly and the sales charge is reduced. You must specify the method used by the fund family to determine ROA discounts on a fund-by-fund basis. The ROA Calculation Methodology can be found in the Discount Qualification section of the Analyzer. While most shares of non-money market funds qualify for ROA, fund firms may restrict the types of shares that qualify. The analyzer does not accommodate any such restrictions.
Once saved, the Rights of Accumulation entry panel will close and you will see a small panel with the settings you selected. Click the pencil icon to edit your settings. Click the trash can to delete all your Existing Assets and Rights of Accumulation settings.
Letters of Intent
If you are planning to make additional investments over the coming months, you can obtain a reduced sales charge by using a Letter of Intent (LOI). A LOI is a statement you sign that expresses your intent to invest an amount over the breakpoint within a given period of time specified by the fund. Many fund companies permit you to include purchases completed within 90 days before the LOI is signed and within 13 months after the LOI is signed to reach the dollar amount of the breakpoint threshold. Caution! If you fail to invest the amount stated in your LOI, the fund can retroactively collect the higher fee. This section applies only to contributed assets, not to existing assets.
The Analyzer will apply your Letter of Intent only in year two of your time line. The year two load will be subject to Rights of Accumulation (ROA) rules as well as LOI rules. At times, ROA rules are more favorable (with regard to that year only) than the LOI rules. For example, under ROA rules the load is 3.75%, while under LOI rules it is 4.75%. The Analyzer will apply the lower sales charge if these two options are defined.
Once saved, the Letters of Intent entry panel will close and you will see a small panel with the settings you selected. Click the pencil icon to edit your settings. Click the trash can to delete all your Letters of Intent settings.
Future Rates of Return
You may input multiple rates of return over time to model how they may change your results. The rate of return you enter may be up to +/- 20%. Opting for custom returns will override the initial "Rate of Return" value. Return periods may not overlap and must cover the entire 20-year time horizon. The rates of return you enter (either via custom returns or the initial "Rate of Return" entry) will be applied equally to all funds you compare. This function does not allow different rates of return to be used for different funds.
Once saved, the Future Rates of Return entry panel will close and you will see a small panel with the settings you selected. Click the pencil icon to edit your settings. Click the trash can to delete all your Future Rates of Return settings.
Loads and CDSCs
Under specific circumstances, funds may permit loads to be waived. This may be allowed as part of a wrap or fee-based account, for instance. If this is allowed with the fund you are analyzing, opting not to apply loads will waive all loads applied to the fund in calculations made by the analyzer.
You can also override a fund's stated loads and enter customized loads. These are sometimes used in "Clean" shares. Be careful to check with your financial professional to ensure you enter the correct load amounts. Be Aware: The Fund Analyzer will allow you to customize the initial front load. However, subsequent fees and expenses incurred when you rebalance or reallocate your portfolio will not be calculated. "Clean" shares may not include traditional benefits such as Rights of Accumulation, Letters of Intent, aggregation and other discounts. Because you may incur further loads and the loss of some discounts or benefits when rebalancing or reallocating, this may be a significant expense over time.
Some funds may waive CDSC charges in the event of the death of the account holder or other circumstances. Many funds with a CDSC have a 30-day grace period (sometimes called a lagging CDSC). Thus, for holding periods that are exact year multiples, you may opt to lag CDSC charges. For example, if a CDSC schedule is 4%, 3%, 2%, and 1%, selecting "No" will cause 3% to apply for year one, 2% for year two, and 1% for year three. Be aware: Selecting any of these options may result in account values which are substantially higher or lower than if loads were applied.
Once saved, the Fees and Loads entry panel will close and you will see a small panel with the settings you selected. Click the pencil icon to edit your settings. Click the trash can to delete all your Fees and Loads settings.
Wrap and Flat Account Fees
You may specify either percentage-based wrap account fees, flat fees or both. Flat fees may be applied to either Contributed Assets or to Existing Assets. Wrap account fees are calculated quarterly based on end-of-quarter assets and are deducted at quarter-end. If there are withdrawals, once they begin, the fee is calculated and deducted annually at year-end. Until withdrawals begin, they are calculated at quarter-end.
Once saved, the Wrap and Flat Account Fees entry panel will close and you will see a small panel with the settings you selected. Click the pencil icon to edit your settings. Click the trash can to delete all your Wrap and Flat Account Fees settings.