Minafi's Take on VFIAX vs WSHCX
Here's an in depth look at the differences between Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares ($VFIAX) and American Funds Washington Mutual Investors Fund Class C ($WSHCX).
To start off, here's a look at the basics of each fund. Keep an eye on the FI Score. That's a custom score from 0 to 100 that we generate based on how good this fund is for the casual investor. Most investors only need a handful of total funds in their portfolio. The higher the score, the more likely this is one of those few. Score alone isn't enough! Keep reading on to see how different (or perhaps similar) these two funds are.
- Mutual Fund
- US Stocks
- Large Blend
Expenses: 1.35% (Better than 0% of similar funds)
This is an OK choice for a Large Blend US Stocks fund. See why »
Both $VFIAX and $WSHCX are categorized as Mutual Funds. Mutual funds are often offered by 401(k) platforms and are essentially the same as ETFs. Mutual funds are generally offered by an investment platform – Fidelity has Fidelity mutual funds, Vanguard has Vanguard mutual funds. Mutual funds are ideal for retirement investing since you can invest any amount. That allows you to invest every last cent and benefit from the market.
The biggest disadvantage of mutual funds is that you're usually limited to the funds on your investment platform. If you're investing on Fidelity, you'll want to pick Fidelity mutual funds (or any ETF). Same with Vanguard. Some platforms offer mutual funds from other platforms, but they may charge a purchse or redemption fee. I'd recommend using the same platform as your funds – or stick to ETFs.
To learn more about the difference between these two, you can read about the difference between ETFs and Mutual Funds.
When evaluating a fund, the first things I look at are:
- What it invests in
- How much it charges in fees
- How large the fund is
Let's look into these criteria one by one and see if either of these funds stands out.
Fund Holdings Comparison
Both of these funds are US Stocks Large Blend funds – which means they're likely both investing in about the same investments behind the scenes.
Minafi's FI Score algorithm takes into account the category and market. The more niche a fund is, the lower the score. This doesn't mean it's a worse fund, but it does mean you should stop and make sure this a fund you need to diversify your portfolio.
|Market Score||9.9 /10||9.8 /10|
|Category Score||10.0 /10||10.0 /10||Total||19.9||19.8|
A score of 10 means this is a solid market and category that almost every investor will want to have investments in. The lower the score, the more specific the investment. These scores are based on when most investors would add these funds to their portfolio. A score of 10 means that this fund (or one like it) belongs in a three-fund portfolio. The lower the score, the farther down in your portfolio a fund would go.
Fees are one of the biggest killers of portfolio growth. The difference between a 2% fee and a 0.04% fee over 30 years can result in your portfolio having half the total value!
If you're just getting started investing and learning how fees impact your portfolio, I'd encourage you to read through my free investment course (specifically '2.2 - All About Fees') where I go over all the different types of fees you can be charged and how to lower them.
For these two funds, VFIAX has an expense ratio of 0.04% while WSHCX has an expense ratio of 1.35%.
Fund Size Comparison
Both VFIAX and WSHCX have a similar number of assets under management. VFIAX has 519 Billion in assets under management, while WSHCX has 118 Billion.
Minafi categorizes both of these funds as large funds. Fund size is a good indication of how many other investors trust this fund. A large fund by itself doesn't mean it's a good fund, but it is one thing to consider when figuring out how to choose the right fund.
Which Should You Choose? VFIAX or WSHCX?
Since both of these funds are US Stocks Large Blend funds, you'll most likely only need to invest in one of these funds – not both. Running both of these funds through Minafi's FI Score algorithm, gives VFIAX a score of 97 and WSHCX a score of 54.
In this case, one fund has a 90+ score – which the clear winner between these two.
Winner: $VFIAX, Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares