Can I buy/sell mutual funds on Ally Invest? Cost of investing in bonds, international, target retirement, NTF, No Load, small/medium/large cap stocks funds.

Overview of Mutual Funds at Ally Invest

If you’re looking for a place to trade mutual funds, you really need to check out Ally Invest. The brokerage firm has an extensive list of the securities with a decent pricing schedule. We’ll show you how to find them and give you some examples of popular funds available on its platform.

Mutual Fund Pricing

No-load mutual funds at Ally Invest cost $9.95 per transaction. This fee is applied to purchases, sales, and exchanges. Funds with loads cost nothing to trade. The broker does not offer any funds with both no load and no transaction fee.

Finding Funds at Ally Invest

To find mutual funds at Ally Invest, just click on “Quotes & Research” in the top menu. Then select “ETF’s & Mutual Funds” from the drop-down selection. In the next window, click on “Mutual Fund Screener.”


Ally Invest Mutual Funds Screener


With Ally’s search tool, you’ll be able to look for funds based on a wide variety of criteria. Some of the available fund characteristics we found include expense ratio, fund category, risk analysis (using beta), and load type.

Most criteria aren’t included in the default layout. To add additional data points, you need to click on “Add Additional Criteria” near the top of the screener. In the pop-up menu that appears, you’ll be able to add many more features, such as fund family, turnover ratio, Lipper rating, and manager tenure.

We found 11,952 funds using Ally’s screener. Slightly more than 2,200 carry zero load. These funds will have the $9.95 charge mentioned above. The others are free to trade, although they have either front-end or back-end loads.

Back-end loads can sometimes be avoided by holding the fund a minimum amount of time; and front-end loads can be eliminated by investing a minimum amount of money (sometimes a $1,000,000 or more, depending on the fund).


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Browsing Through the Search Results

Once you get to the search results, it’s time to look through the funds. In the top menu of the results, you’ll see the following tabs:

  • My Criteria
  • Profile
  • Total Return Performance
  • Risk Analysis
  • Lipper Leaders

My Criteria will display the specific characteristics you selected in the search criteria at the start of your investigation. Profile shows asset class (equity or bond, for example), load status, expense ratio, and dividend yield. Total Return Performance displays positive returns in green and negative returns in red for easy viewing. Risk Analysis shows R-Squared, standard deviation, and beta v. S&P 500. Finally, Lipper Leaders displays Lipper ratings on a variety of criteria.

On all five tabs, the first two columns are fund name and ticker symbol. Next to the ticker is a small graph icon. Clicking on this (hovering over it won’t work) produces a small pop-out window with a medium-sized graph that offers four timeframes (6-month, 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year). There are also buy and sell buttons in this box. When we clicked on one of these, for some strange reason we got Ally’s order ticket for stocks and ETF’s, which can’t be used to trade mutual funds.


Ally Invest Mutual Funds Screener


To invest in a mutual fund, you’ll first need to visit a fund’s profile page (found by clicking on a fund’s name or ticker symbol in the search results) and then clicking on the buy button on the profile page.

The final column on all five tabs is a trade selection with buy and sell links. When we clicked on one of these, we got the same stock/ETF trade ticket.


Profile Pages

Ally Invest offers several helpful data points on mutual fund profiles. First is a graph displaying the growth of $10,000. A “Fund Highlights” section shows the minimum investment the fund requires (for both taxable and nontaxable accounts), and whether the fund is open to new investors. Load status is also displayed in this section.

A really nice tool we like appears at the bottom of the “Snapshot” tab. This is the Lipper Leader Scorecard, which shows Lipper’s rating of the fund on several categories, including tax efficiency, expense, and total return.

Another important feature is a “Portfolio” tab, which displays top fund holdings (you should probably know what you’re investing in) and asset allocation. This will show you how much of the fund is invested in stocks, bonds, cash, or other instruments.


Ally Invest Mutual Fund


Fund Examples

One example of a fund we found in our test of Ally’s screener is CLHAX, the AdvisorOne CLS International Equity Fund. It has no load, but charges 1.15% for management. There is a minimum $2,500 investment level, but IRA’s have no minimum. The fund’s current size is $50.8 million, making it a small fund.

An example of a load fund we found on Ally’s platform is PGGAX, American Funds Global Growth Portfolio Class A Fund. Because these are class A shares, the load is on the buy side. It is 5.75%, and it can be reduced by investing at least $25,000. At this level, the load drops to 5.0%. Greater investments further lower the load. It reaches 0% at $1,000,000.

The minimum investment in PGGAX is just $100 ($25 for IRA’s), and total assets in the fund come in at $1.7 billion. PGGAX is a fund of funds, meaning it invests in other mutual funds.


Comparison

Compared to some of its rivals, Ally Invest has both strengths and weakness in the mutual fund category. For example, Fidelity’s fund screener can’t search by load status, but Ally’s can.

The number of no-load funds at Ally is smaller than the number we found at E*Trade (more than 4,200), and most of the no-load funds at E*Trade also come with zero transaction fee. E*Trade offers a fund report in pdf format, which can be downloaded free of charge. However, most funds ar E*Trade cost $20 - twice as much as what Ally is charging.

At USAA, we found 13,817 mutual funds available to new investors. This is larger, but not significantly so, than Ally Invest’s lineup. More than 5,700 of USAA’s funds carry no load, which is much larger than Ally’s no-load list. However, USAA’s transaction fee is $45.


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