Growth Funds: Investing Essentials

Investing in growth funds can be exciting and rewarding -- if you know what to look for.

Aug 15, 2014 at 11:22AM

Let's face it: Investing in dividend-paying income stocks isn't the most exciting way for young investors to see their portfolios grow. Although study after study extolls the benefits of such an approach, some people like a bit of excitement in their retirement plan.

That's where growth funds come in. And far from being unreliable and money-losing compared to dividend payers, growth funds can help supercharge your returns and shorten the length of time between now and your eventual retirement date.

That is, of course, if you know how to select growth funds that meet your needs.

Screen Shot

Growth funds can help you build your retirement portfolio. Source: Images Money via Flickr.

What are growth funds?

There are lots of definitions for "growth funds," but in the broadest sense, any growth fund usually has the following characteristics:

  • An investment in stocks, as opposed to bonds or CDs.
  • A goal of accumulating returns via stock price appreciation instead of dividend income.
  • Investment in companies that are growing both earnings and revenue at a rate well above the broader market's average.
  • Volatility that exaggerates the market's moves -- showing bigger gains during boom times and greater losses during bust times.

What is the history of growth funds?

The actual birth date of mutual funds in America is a little hazy, but it was in 1928 that the Wellington Fund launched funds with exposure to both stocks and bonds.

The growth of mutual funds was slow following the Great Depression, and it wasn't until the 1960s that mutual funds focused specifically on growth began to surface. Following the stock market's 1,400% surge between 1980 and 2000, growth funds became a popular investment tool for everyday investors.

According to Kiplinger's, the following three large-cap growth funds were the most successful over the past 20 years.



Total Return




Maris & Power Growth (NASDAQMUTFUND:MPGFX)



ClearBridge Aggressive Growth (NASDAQMUTFUND:SHRAX)




S&P 500



Source: Kiplinger's. Data current as of July 31, 2014.

It should be noted, however, that these represent the cream of the crop; not every growth fund has performed this well. And many funds didn't even last that full 20 years and therefore aren't considered.

How many growth funds are there?

In 2013, U.S. News & World Report estimated that there were 7,238 mutual funds in existence.

Focusing specifically on growth, the Investment Company Institute said that by the end of 2013, there were 1,329 different funds focused on "capital appreciation." A whopping $1.725 trillion was invested in those funds -- up 125% from just 2002.

The most popular of these are the growth-focused exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offered by iShares. Investors can choose from a number of different types of growth ETFs, including ones that track the S&P 500, the Russell 1000, and the Russell 2000.

These funds have ultra-low fees, usually with an expense ratio below 0.3%, which helps explain their popularity.

Why invest in growth funds?

Growth funds play an important role in any well-balanced portfolio. They invest in companies that are shaping the future of our society -- and turning a solid profit in the process. That includes names like (NASDAQ:AMZN), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

While income funds that focus on dividends will provide stability through both boom and bust cycles, investors with a long-term investing horizon can count on growth funds to provide the kind of kick that helps you reach your retirement goals.

If you're not investing in a growth ETF and you decide to go the mutual fund route, the two most important factors to consider are fees and management. You should shoot for an expense ratio that's lower than 1% -- and the lower the better. And it's important to investigate the team that's deciding where to invest your money. Though a certain fund may have been around forever, its leader may be in his or her first year on the job. You want someone who knows what they're doing and has a proven track record.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning -- it may shock you)
If growth is what you're after, we might have an inside scoop just for you!

Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early, in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Brian Stoffel owns shares of, Apple, and Facebook. The Motley Fool recommends, Apple, and Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of, Apple, and Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers