Even though ETFs are all the rage, mutual funds and low-cost index funds are still the investment of choice for most investors. With tens of thousands of funds to choose from, building a solid portfolio isn’t easy. That’s where a mutual fund screener comes in handy.
Like any great stock screener, a good fund screener narrows down your choices by filtering through different criteria to find the funds that meet your goals. Once you have a small list to choose from researching each one should be easy too.
Since mutual funds are built for most investors, the best mutual fund screener should be too. It should be easy to use and understand. You shouldn’t need a manual for a simple screen by category, asset class, and cost. Once you have the results, the site should have all the fund information you need to make an informed decision before investing. The best part is, all the screening tools below do that and each one is free.
Best Mutual Fund Screeners
We started the search with the best ETF screening tools. Sadly, only one extended beyond ETFs. So we had to dig a little more. If you’re specifically looking for mutual funds or index funds use one of the fund screeners below.
The Morningstar Fund Screener comes with a wealth of information. Morningstar is the leader in investment research and is well known for its fund analysis and ratings system. It offers its free mutual fund screener to anyone who signs up. The free screening tool has 18 different filters. While it could use an updated look, it still does the job. Once you add in the Fund Quickrank, Compare tools, and fund information, Morningstar has the best fund screener available.
It includes five preset screens which act as a good starting point or you can build a custom screen. You can dig down further with more filters until you’re happy with the results. From there, you can take advantage of Morningstar’s leading information to research each fund individually.
Morningstar also has a premium screener too. With it you get access to more preset screens, fund analysis, and all the bells and whistles that come with the premium membership, try it free today.
The Reuters Fund Screener is built around its Lipper Research data. It has 29 total filters, but you can only use 15 per screen. Which should be more than adequate for the average investor. The Reuters fund screener offers a clean user experience. It’s probably the easiest to use, having simple selection boxes to click on.
There is one nice thing about the Reuters Mutual Fund Screener. As you refine your search with each filter, it keeps a running tally of the qualifying funds in the total matches column on the right. You can adjust your filters based on the number of matches you want. With Morningstar, you don’t know you how many matching funds you have until after you hit search.
Wall Street Journal
The WSJ Fund Screener is basically the Reuters screener, with a slightly different look and feel, as well as a much broader screening criteria. It has 38 screening filters with no limit on the number you use. It uses the same Lipper research data and also provides a rolling tally of matching funds as you filter your search.
You can start your search with one of nine categories. Each category can be expanded to further refine your search in that area. If you’re searching for something very specific and the other screeners don’t cut it, you’ll probably have the best luck with this one. At the same time, if you’re just trying to keep things simple, the number of possibilities with this screener can be overwhelming.
Best Closed End Fund Screener
Closed end funds have their own unique place in the mutual fund world. Simply, a closed end fund is like a cross between an ETF and a managed mutual fund but has a fixed number of shares outstanding. That is, it’s a managed mutual fund that trades on an exchange like a stock or ETF.
Because of how closed end funds work, it fills a niche and presents opportunities for investors. Your typical screen might search for closed end funds trading below its net asset value (NAV), for instance. The best closed end fund screener should easily have that covered along with more advanced searches.
CEF Connect is a widely regarded resource for closed end fund investors. The screener allows you to refine your search with up to eight criteria from the most common like NAV, leverage, and premium/discount to others like performance, distribution, and bond breakdown. For an investor that regularly deals in closed end funds, it’s very easy to use. Even new investors will find the site to be a great resource thanks to its education section.
If you’re looking for an alternative, both Closed End Fund Center and Morningstar deserve an honorable mention. Closed End Fund Center offers a simple fund screener along with a few other great tools. Morningstar, however, doesn’t actually offer a screener, but does dedicate an entire section of its site to closed end funds.
At last count, there were over 20,000 mutual funds available. That number doesn’t make it easy to find great funds for your portfolio. But a great research tool, like one of the fund screeners above, makes it ten times easier to sift through the mire, so you can find the exact index fund, mutual fund, or closed end fund you need to build a solid portfolio around.