"Commingled fund" is a term that describes a particular type of mutual fund that is exempt from many of the requirements of other mutual funds. One way to distinguish between these fund types is to look at the regulatory framework with which each must comply. This framework reveals the constraints placed upon the fund manager. While fund managers with fewer restraints can conceivably make more money than those with more constraints, they can also present you with unanticipated losses, because they operate with fewer reporting requirements.
Many investment experts categorize commingled funds as a type of mutual fund. Both are investment instruments containing stocks, bonds or both. Both fund types are managed by fund managers whose job is to make the fund profitable. The fund manager buys and sells assets in a manner consistent with the nature of the fund, and investors purchase fund shares.
Mutual funds can be purchased by institutional and individual investors. Commingled funds -- also known as pooled funds -- can only be purchased by institutional investors involved in 401(k) plans and other requirement plans. Unlike other types of mutual funds, commingled funds are not regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Instead, they are overseen by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and state regulators. They are not publicly traded, making it difficult to research them.
Pooled funds are generally seen as more risky than other mutual funds. Although the lack of reporting requirements makes unethical practices more possible, the relative risk is not necessarily more than that of a mutual fund that invests in similar stocks or bonds. The best way to evaluate this risk is to look at how the fund behaved over a long period. Assessing how the fund performed under adverse market conditions suggests how it might perform under comparable conditions in the future.
Other Usages of Term
The term "commingling funds" can also refer to mixing money from various sources in a single account. For example, a savings account that contains funds owned by two or more people is a commingled account. Used this way, the commingled fund does not refer to an investment instrument. Problems with commingled funds typically arise during divorce proceedings or when a business partnership dissolves.
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