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Thrasher Funds’ GendeX Mutual Fund: You Know, For Kids

This article was written by in Investing. 13 comments.


Do investment companies need to market to “Generation X” and “Generation Y” differently than the general investing public? Would new, “hip” investment products encourage individuals falling within these particular demographics to care about their financial future? Thrasher Capital Management was founded on the principle that these markets, as well as minorities, are currently under served by the financial industry.

[The Thraser Funds investment model] seeks to capitalize on the convergence of what the firm believes to be global, generational, and socioeconomic dynamics that touch an array of industries: the Baby Boomer’s increased life expectancy, elongated career life cycle, along with Generations X and Y’s increased access to capital.

To approach this investment model, Thrasher created the GendeX Mutual Fund, and is marketing the investment to Generation X and Generation Y, individuals who do not seem to fit in with the generally-accepted notion of “investor.” A visit to the Thrasher Funds website makes this clear. The first thing you’ll see is a photograph of a group of “non-conformists.” Their individuality is indicated by the diversity of clothing and stature/stance, with no one looking like your typical “professional” investor. “They invest. Do you?” Peer pressure is a powerful force.

If you like, there is the option to peruse the Thrasher Funds website with a soundtrack designed especially for Thrasher Funds’ customers. Play the music at the bottom of the website to listen to a smooth track. It makes you wonder if those who market to youth’s individuality really believe in that individuality.

So what about the GendeX mutual fund [GENDX]? Investors should look past all this marketing and determine whether the investment itself is worthwhile. Their website is not yet ready for prime time, so those seeking data on past performance are pointed to Yahoo Finance’s website. Information there is sparse as well. In GendeX’s short history, it has followed the S&P closely. As I tried to find more information, I discovered that Google Finance has no information on the fund at all. The symbol and fund name are not recognized by Google’s vast financial database.

GendeX invests in companies that are admired by their demographics, such as Apple, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Volkswagen, Coca Cola, and Nike, among other companies that appeal to the masses, like Time Warner and Google.

The fund features an expense ratio of 1.50%, above average and eight times the expense ratio of VFINX, Vanguard’s index fund that follows the S&P 500. The fees keep on coming. While the fund is happy to accept investors with a low $100 minimum if combined with an automatic investment plan of at least $50 per month, you’ll have to pay $2 per month if your account value is less than $2,500. That’s basically an extra 1% fee or more. If you withdraw money from the fund that has not been invested for over 12 months, you’ll face a 2% redemption fee. Redemption fees are usually used to recoup costs for selling investments with hard-to-find buyers; considering that the underlying investments of GendeX are actively traded, I don’t see a need for this redemption fee.

So will you be cutting back on skateboards and tattoos in order to invest in GendeX? If so, leave a message on Thrasher Funds’ MySpace page where “investing is a party” with 445 other friends.

As someone on the young side of Generation X, I’ll stick with index mutual funds, as boring and unmarketable as they are.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published March 27, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar KC

Peer pressure and marketing are powerful tools, especially to the younger generation. IMO, these types of funds are just gimmicks to reach a new market that traditionally hasn’t invested. I’d hope that a parent would take their teen’s interest in money and foster it along, getting them to look at things like fees and be able to compare and make better decisions about their investments.

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avatar Tom

Unfortunately, this is a brilliant idea. I say unfortunately because of the absurd fees they are charging and because I can’t see this fund generating much more ROI than the S&P 500 (which does have a good ROI over the long term). I think once they really rev up the PR machine, they will get Gen Xbox (younger Gen X) and Gen Y who don’t know much about investing to pour their money into a fund/website that only looks “cool”. These new investors generally don’t have any investing education. Once they investors start learning about Expense Ratios and how fees really effect their overall return, they will yank their money out and run to Vanguard (w/ 2% redemption fee of course). Sadly, that’ll be after they have paid the Thrasher Capital Management company a bunch of money.

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avatar Lily

:: rolls eyes ::

I am ostensibly part of the demographic Thrasher Funds is trying to target, and I am NOT impressed. Granted, I’m not representative of most people my age, but a few things turn me off.

(1) Bad site design. If you just compare the Thrasher site to the sites of its holdings (which are supposed to be companies that appeal to Gen X / Y), you’ll see that it doesn’t even compare. I don’t think this will impress a generation raised on the Internet and acutely sensitive to new trends.

(2) Lack of information. Fund information through Yahoo? This seems amateurish. “About Us” page can’t be found? That’s like having a ? as your Facebook profile photo.

(3) Pink? I guess this is still part of site design. Pink? When did any generation think pink was cool?

I think Thrasher tries too hard, like a 45-year-old who tries to impress his kids by picking up their lingo, or like a middle-aged mom walking around in baby-doll tees and leggings. (Not that I’m criticizing older folk; I’m just saying there’s something fake about Thrasher’s message.) I feel like its key demographic will either not care about retirement even if it’s dressed up as young and hip, or it will see right through Thrasher.

Beyond the high fees, how dumb is it that this fund holds stocks mainly in consumer cyclicals? Way to not diversify.

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avatar Me

I am a genXer, and none of those “kids” look anything like me or my generation. It is insulting.

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avatar Ellen

I’m a part of GenY and what I guess you would consider a “non-conformist” (though aren’t we all in my generation). I have to agree with the other commenters that I’m not at all impressed with Thrasher. The idea behind it is good, because of course my generation loves social networking and marketing is key. Throw in some peer pressure, and you’d think you’d have a winner. I would hope, though, that no one would fall for such a gimmicky company. I have to say, I laughed out loud when I saw they’re using Old English font for their graphics. I don’t think I could take any of that seriously.

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avatar Eric

Well, as a young GenY-er, I’m not impressed at all.

Low-fee index funds are still “hip” to me. ;)

Then again, maybe I’m in the wrong generation… :)

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avatar Tom

Although I agree with everyones comments in that I am not impressed with this high fee, “hip” fund, we are financially educated. We read personal finance blogs. We understand why this fund shouldn’t be bought.

What you aren’t talking about is how the rest of GenX/Y will perceive it. Ellen was right, we love social networking, gimmicky marketing, pink/black colors (yes, Lily, Pink/Purple/black/colors are hugely popular with the skateboarding/tattooed/rocker/emo/gen y crowd). Once they work out the bugs in the website, add more flash features, and start the real marketing, this fund will be bought by young, unfinacially educated Gen X/Yers. It will appeal to them.

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avatar Jeremy

While everyone who reads financial sites may be able to see that there are cheaper investment alternatives out there, you have to consider their target market. Is a 20-something going to get excited when they see a plain ad that just talks about a low-fee index fund? Nope, they can’t identify with that, nor have any reason to.

Also, you need to consider the fact that if this type of marketing encourages someone to invest for the first time, that is a good thing. Even if it isn’t the cheapest alternative out there, just investing at all at a young age is better than not investing. And this first step will likely lead to the person to take the next steps to learn more about investing for the future, which in turn will point them to other investing alternatives.

So no, it isn’t a fund for me or anything I would recommend to others, but it is a unique approach to possibly get people interested in investing, which is still better than doing nothing.

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avatar rstlne

Wait a minute. How old is Generation X now? In their 30s? One would think they’d already be more serious about their finances than the Thrasher Funds website implies.

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avatar Llama Money

From a business standpoint, I guess this model has some merit… the fees are high enough to make the fund managers rich without controlling a large amount of money. But any semi-savvy investor, Gen X, Y, or Z ( is there a Z? ) will be smart enough to stay far away. There are simply much better choices out there that DON’T eat away my returns with massive fees.

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avatar Khalid Jones

We appreciate all of the comments about our fund, firm and site, both of the criticizing and constructively criticizing nature. We agree that there are “cheaper” funds from an expense ratio standpoint, however none of those funds have minimums low enough that any first-time or small investor could reasonably participate. It is true that VFINX has an expense ration of .15% (who can argue with that), but that fund also has a minimum that is 30 times higher than our GendeX fund, so by “recommending” that fund, you are inherently only recommending to a certain strata of investor. Our goal with the GendeX was to increase participation and education on the part of a new generation of investors which required a balancing act between the fees we charged and the minimums that we allowed. We could easily lower the fees and increase the minimums, effectively keeping out the very types of people that have been shut out of participation in the past, but that doesn’t conform with the ethos of our efforts.

If anyone has any questions about our fund or our firm and what we are trying to accomplish, we would be more than happy to have that type of a dialouge. What we are doing right we will continue to do, what we are doing wrong we will continue to improve upon, but the best part is that we are starting a dialouge in this arena where none of the other bigger shops have even ventured and we will never allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. Before our fund there wasn’t even anybody to snipe at for not reaching out the right way. Also, please see our efforts on the educational media front at http://www.youtube.com/thrashertv. We have no interest in keeping potential investors in the dark. It is always better for people to be more knowledgeble rather than less.

If you agree that young people deserve money management services, then let us all work together to figure out the best way. We have dedicated our persons and our careers towards that end and are happy to share and receive ideas on that front.

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avatar Jroger

I applaud the funds efforts to actually get young and non-financial people to invest early…

Isn’t that really the most important thing? If they get started early, they can always move to lower funds later on in life…

Kudos to the fund for encouraging savings rather than spending…

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avatar UH2L

I think the fund is a good idea because it appeals to Gen X and Gen Y people who might not otherwise invest. And low investment levels do require more fees. That’s understandable. Just using the familiar Youtube type windows on the site will make many of them/us stop and take a look.

On the flip-side, (and I may be wrong), most of the people who don’t invest already still won’t invest no matter how cool or intelligent the message is. Many of them can barely get by. Financially savvy (and generally more well-of) Gen X and Gen Y-ers probably have been investing and leverage 401K’s from their employers. These don’t have minimum requirements for investment amounts either.

It’s neat that Khalid Jones posted a comment on here. That’s good to do from a marketing standpoint.

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