Mutual funds are an excellent way to maximize returns in the current low-interest environment. Mutual funds are an important tool to balance a portfolio against market changes that can affect the value of stocks and bonds. When selecting mutual funds, investors can assess the impact of market factors and select funds that appear well-designed to yield the best possible gains. US banking policy changes will affect interest rates and bond values. Sovereign debt situations in Greece and Puerto Rico may cause substantial market impacts. Unexpected market corrections occur, as recently in China. Market observers agree, these and similar news and world events are challenges that a prudent investor must take into account as risks.

Picking the Best Mutual Fund

The best mutual fund can be more than selecting the best return. Returns are part of the past, and the profits the investor seeks to gain are in the present and future. Most experts advise an approach that recognizes risks and creates flexible alternatives to a given course of action. For example, in the risk of a falling market, experts advise keeping a larger portion of assets in cash so that one can seize opportunities for high-value assets in a falling market. A risk-conscious approach to mutual funds can use the investor’s insight. For example, multisector mutual funds that pay high levels of income provide flexibility and diversification. Profits can help investors maintain readiness to strike at opportunities; mutual funds based on multisector assets help diversify the investment and protect against volatility.

Leading Providers of Mutual Funds

Blackrock is a global leader in volume of assets under management; as of July 15, 2015 they reported 4.7 trillion in assets under management. They are also among the leaders in profits having exceeded $2.9 billion in fees in the second quarter of 2015. While offering a variety of high performance mutual funds, they are a leader in income funds and the most productive group of ETFs traded under iShares. Blackrock demonstrates an aggressive growth strategy and risk management by buying Greek debt in a falling market. Fidelity Investments is another global leader in asset volume with more than $2 trillion under management as of March 2015. With full operational offices in central Europe, India, and China, Fidelity has a global presence. They are a leading online broker with highly rated tools for customer interaction. Two of the top-performing mutual funds are Fidelity® Select Biotechnology Portfolio (FBIOX) with a five-year total return of 53.89 percent, and FidelityAdvisor® Biotechnology Fund(FBTAX) with an overall five-year return of 51.27 percent.

Leading with Bonds and Stocks

PIMCO is the Pacific Investment Management Company. It is a large, global financial management company with more than $1.59 trillion in assets under management as of April 2015. With offices in the US and 12 other countries, they provide financial services and some of the leading mutual funds. With many offerings ranked among the top performing mutual funds, the most profitable mutual funds are PIMCO® Fixed Income SHares: Series C, Class C (FXICX). The fund has returned 2.72 percent over the past year, 4.50 percent over the past three years, 6.80 percent over the past five years, and 10.47 percent over the past decade. PIMCO StocksPLUS® Long Duration Fund Class Inst (PSLDX) returned 8.5 percent over the past year, and 24.1 percent over the past five years.

Ameritrade Interactive Platforms

TD Ameritrade is an online brokerage that offers an excellent customer experience for those who wish to take charge of research, selection, and short-term strategy. The online platform called ThinkorSwim is the centerpiece of a set of tools designed to provide maximum information and convenience. One can connect from anywhere on the Web and the tools take the investor as far as the imagination can develop questions and combinations for data analysis. The second and more relaxed platform is Trade Architect. It has effective tools with a simple layout and meant for casual users rather than experienced or professional users.

USAA – The Direct Sales Model

USAA began in 1924 as a mutual insurance society for commissioned officers. It began as a service dedicated to insuring military officers that had difficulty getting insurance from commercial sources. It grew primarily as a life, property and casualty company. Known as a pioneer in direct marketing, the company still maintains an in-house direct sales force. Restricting some activities to military personnel and families, they offer many financial services on the open market. The company currently offers a group of no-load mutual funds with access through its investment accounts. The services also include fee and non-fee paid advisor and financial planning services.