A mutual fund is a professionally managed type of collective investment scheme that pools money from many investors and invests typically in investment securities (stocks, bonds, short-term money market instruments, other mutual funds, other securities, and/or commodities such as precious metals). The mutual fund will have a fund manager that trades (buys and sells) the fund's investments in accordance with the fund's investment objective. In the U.S., a fund registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under both SEC and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules must distribute nearly all of its net income and net realized gains from the sale of securities (if any) to its investors at least annually. Most funds are overseen by a board of directors or trustees (if the U.S. fund is organized as a trust as they commonly are) which is charged with ensuring the fund is managed appropriately by its investment adviser and other service organizations and vendors, all in the best interests of the fund's investors.
Individual retirement account
Individual retirement accounts are one of two types of individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) that provide tax advantages as you save for retirement. The other is an individual retirement annuity.
Both have the same annual contribution limits, catch-up provisions if you're 50 or older, and withdrawal requirements. In addition, both are available in three varieties: traditional deductible, traditional nondeductible, and Roth.
The primary difference between the two is in the investments you make with your contributions.
You open an individual retirement account with a financial services firm, such as a bank, brokerage firm, or investment company, as custodian. The accounts are self-directed, which means you can choose among the investments available through your custodian.
In common practice, however, perhaps because more people have individual retirement accounts, the acronym IRA tends to be used to refer to an account rather than annuity or arrangement.