Apparently, the Securities and Exchange Commission has a backbone after all. After seemingly watching from the sidelines as the worst financial crisis in decades unfolded, the watchdog recently brought charges of fraud against Goldman Sachs
Diamonds in the rough
To be clear, the charges that Goldman is facing don't directly affect its mutual fund business. But it's a fair question to ask -- if the culture does in fact encourage employees to put the firm's interests ahead of its clients, should you entrust your money to these folks? Like many fund shops, Goldman's asset management business has a small number of decent offerings and a good number that you should probably stay away from. In general, there are no superstar funds here, but there are some reasonable choices for certain investors.
In my opinion, one of the better Goldman funds is Goldman Sachs Mid Cap Value
The down side
On the flip side, there are plenty of things not to like about Goldman's fund lineup. For one, many of Goldman's funds feature front-end loads, or charges that investors pay to own the fund. These charges can run as high as 3.75% to 5.50% depending on the fund, and don't include the ongoing annual expenses. Also, Goldman funds do tend to run on the more expensive side. For example, the Goldman Sachs BRIC Fund
Furthermore, many Goldman funds just haven't measured up, performance-wise. The quantitatively run Goldman Sachs Structured US Equity Fund
Back on track
To be clear, I don't think the recent SEC charges will be the Waterloo for Goldman that some are expecting and even hoping for. In fact, Wall Street and investors alike don't seem to be fleeing from Goldman as a result of these charges -- the stock has actually regained some of its initial lost ground. Goldman's institutional clients appear to be staying put. I think the odds are good that Goldman will settle with the SEC fairly soon and get back to the business of making money without too much further ado.
Ultimately, investors shouldn't worry too much that the SEC's investigation will affect their Goldman Sachs mutual funds. However, I won't go out too far on a limb and say that their funds are a screaming buy. And while the dealings involved in the fraud charges are completely separate from their fund business, they don't exactly endear the Goldman culture to investors. You can find better, and cheaper, mutual fund options elsewhere. Goldman will surely live to invest another day, but that doesn't mean that you necessarily have to invest alongside them.
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Amanda Kish is the Fool's resident fund advisor for the Rule Your Retirement newsletter. At the time of publication, she did not own any of the funds or companies mentioned herein. Microsoft and Pfizer are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool has a disclosure policy.