Until a few years ago, the American Funds family of mutual funds was available to individual investors only through intermediaries such as brokers and advisors. But now they’re available to anyone through online brokers, such as Fidelity and Schwab.
That’s a huge deal because, in my view, the best American Funds are among the top actively managed, large-company funds you can find anywhere. The funds haven’t attracted much attention from individual investors because they had been marketed solely through intermediaries and because the “American” name is shared by at least two other fund firms.
But these mutual funds demand your attention. American Funds’ products aren’t flashy, but they have provided long-term, index-beating results. What’s more, the funds have held up especially well during bear markets, which is critical to retirement investors. All of American Funds’ U.S. stock mutual funds lost substantially less than the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index in the 2007-09 meltdown. “All 11 funds with at least a 20-year track record are ahead of their most relevant benchmark over that time period, which included two severe bear markets,” says Alec Lucas, a senior analyst at Morningstar who covers a dozen American Funds products.