There are a number of great funds that are closed to new investors. Household names like Vanguard Windsor, Harbor International, Acorn, Pennsylvania Mutual and Babson Enterprise are among the great funds no longer accepting new shareholders.
Should you have been wise enough to invest in any of the above-mentioned or other likewise outstanding funds, you are no doubt richer for the experience. Furthermore, although closed to new investors, almost all closed funds accept new money from existing shareholders. If you would like a copy of my current fund recommendations, call 800-445-5900.What if you weren't lucky enough to get into one of these funds before it closed but would like to now? As always, I have a couple of ideas that might help you out.
1. BEG YOUR WAY IN. Mutual funds aren't a cold, heartless bureaucracy. They are managed by human beings, and the no-load world is occupied by some of the nicest people you could ever know. Their kindness could work in your favor.
Many closed funds have been known to accept new money from investors. Yes, even closed funds are sometimes open. An impassioned plea (best in writing) is often met with a sympathetic ear. Of course, you will need to flatter the manager with accolades and suggest that you will forever remain a shareholder, but the odds are better than you think. Try it; you have nothing to lose.
2. RIDE ON THE COATTAILS OF A DISCOUNT BROKER. The mutual fund marketplaces sponsored by Charles Schwab, Fidelity and Jack White maintain master or ombudsman accounts for most mutual funds. The discount broker may have thousands of individual investors in one particular fund but it is recognized as one single account by the mutual fund company.
For example, there may be 10,000 investors who purchased the Berger 100 fund through Charles Schwab's OneSource mutual fund marketplace. On Berger's books, however, these 10,000 shareholders appear as one account under the Charles Schwab name.
Even when a fund closes, it almost always accepts new money from existing shareholders. In some cases, you can buy into a closed fund through a discount broker's master ombudsman account. The closed fund will think that an existing shareholder is simply adding more money to the account.
Each closed fund will have its own policies regarding this type of transaction, but check with your discount broker for funds that allow this loophole.
3. MUTUAL FUND DATING SERVICE. If either of the above two strategies doesn't work, you can always do it the old-fashioned way - buy your way in. A lesser known but innovative deep discount broker, Jack White & Company of San Diego, has developed a mutual fund matching service where you can buy shares of closed funds.
What Jack White (800-233-3411) does is match sellers of closed funds with investors who would like to buy their shares. Sort of a mutual fund dating service. For example, say you owned 1,000 shares of the Acorn Fund and wanted to sell. If you liquidated your shares through Acorn, you would get the net asset value. Jack White, however, would pay you the net asset value plus a flat fee of $100 for redeeming your shares through him.
In turn, Jack White would then offer those 1,000 shares of the Acorn Fund to interested buyers for a flat fee of $200. Jack White would pocket a reasonable $100 fee for his services and both the buyer and seller are happy. The seller got an extra $100 that he/she wouldn't otherwise receive and the buyer got into an excellent closed fund for a small, $200 fee.
This mutual fund dating service works well with load funds, too. Other than the pesky sales loads, there are some outstanding load funds. Remember, sales loads have no bearing on performance, so some load funds would be great investments sans sales loads.
White can get you into the load fund of your choice also for a flat $200 fee. Depending upon the size of your investment, the $200 could work out to be a very minor transaction charge. Small investors would, however, end up paying too high of a premium as a percentage of their investment.
Jack White's matching service is a great tool for investors seeking entry into closed and loaded mutual funds. The fee is reasonable and of minor consequence to investors with more than $10,000 to invest. After all, cost is a consideration when you don't get value for your money. I don't think you'll find too many Fidelity Magellan investors complaining about the 3 percent sales load they had to pay.