Learn as much as you can about investing and mutual funds while in high school and college. There are many books on the topic, which can provide a good introduction. Some examples include: Mutual Funds For Dummies (For Dummies, 2016), and Stock Market Investing for Beginners: Essentials to Start Investing Successfully (Tycho Press, 2013). Another good resource is Mutual Funds and ETFS: A Guide for Investors (https://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/sec-guide-to-mutual-funds.pdf) from the Securities & Exchange Commission. It explains how mutual funds work, provides an overview of the different types of funds, and offers a glossary of commonly used industry terms. Participate in investment competitions during high school and college to develop your stock-picking skills. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania offers the Knowledge@Wharton High School Investment Competition (https://kwhs.wharton.upenn.edu/competitions), a free, global, online investment simulation for students, ages 14–18, and teachers. According to the Wharton Web site, “students learn about teamwork, communication, risk, diversification, company analysis, industry analysis, and investing.”
A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment pool that is sold to the public through the sale of shares representing an ownership interest. Most mutual funds can be classified into one of three categories—stock funds (also called equity funds), bond funds (also known as fixed income funds), and money market funds—although some funds feature a mix of these categories. Portfolio managers select securities that best match the objectives of the fund they manage, generally to achieve the highest return on investment at an acceptable level of risk. Analysts conduct research to help portfolio managers decide which stocks, bonds, and money market funds should be included in a new portfolio, or added to or dropped from an existing portfolio. They generally focus on trends affecting a specific industry, region, or type of product. For example, an analyst will focus on the biotechnology industry, northern Europe, or the bond market. Firms with larger research departments assign analysts even narrower subject areas, such as a specific country (such as Japan) or company (General Dynamics Corporation). Job duties vary by employer, but most analysts:
One fast-emerging subspecialty is quantitative analyst. These professionals spend their days writing computer code (mathematical algorithms) that are useful in valuing and trading stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments. Quantitative analysts, or “quants,” are the people who create all the computer code that is driving the rapid-fire, high-frequency trading now dominating daily trading activity in the U.S. equity markets.