Heard Dave Ramsey speaking the other night on his growth mutual fund strategy and he mentioned reading one of his fund's prospectus and said this fund had a 78 year history and 11.94% average return over those 78 years.

Tried some searches but not sure how to find this specific fund. Anyone know any tools/tips to find this fund or other like it?


3 Answers 3


He was most likely talking about American Funds' mutual fund called The Investment Company of America. It lists January 1, 1934 as its inception date, which is just over 78 years ago. As shown at the link above, it lists its cumulative annualized returns as of December 31, 2011 to be 11.97% (not taking any loads into account). It does appear to be a relatively popular fund, with over 3.5 million shareholder accounts and over $50 billion in net assets.

The fund is targeted primarily at American large-cap equities, and is actively managed. Commensurate with that, its expenses are higher than index funds (the actual expense ratio and/or loads depend upon the share class that you choose; the above link shows information for class A shares, which carry a somewhat hefty front-end load); it's up to you to choose between a higher-cost, actively-managed fund (and hope that the managers are good at picking stocks) versus a low-cost indexing approach promoted by companies like Vanguard. You'll find people on both sides of that fence.

However, as JoeTaxpayer already pointed out, the average return of the market over the same time period was very similar, or even better (I'm not sure exactly how the calculator he referenced arrived at the number; the S&P 500 didn't exist in its current form until 1957), so it's not clear that the management of this fund has added value from a total return standpoint. Depending upon your risk appetite, however, it may be worth looking a bit deeper to compare the fund's volatility with that of the overall market; a similar return with lower volatility might be desirable.

  • Thanks for the info and link. Very helpful answers from you and JoeTaxpayer.
    – Valien
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 1:23
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    Just an update on this. I was listening to his show the other day and he specifically mentioned he has investments in the American Funds group. So you were right on!
    – Valien
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 14:16
  • For what it's worth, money chimp uses the data from Schiller. I'll check if Bob has a note how he produced numbers early on. Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 3:59

First a disclaimer. The most difficult questions to answer are ones that ask what someone else was talking about with no solid quote.

But to give you some info - the MoneyChimp Compound Growth shows that from Jan 1, 1934 through Dec 31 2011, the S&P return was an average 12.14%, and the CAGR (compound growth rate) was 10.49.

Given that I've been invested in an S&P fund for my near 30 working years, and its expense ratio is .05%, I've seen a return of about 12.09% over that same period. So I find it unremarkable that some fund performed as well as this less another .17% or so.

You should also know the average and the CAGR are not the same. Simply put, an up 20% one year and down 10% the next is an average 5% return, but 3.9% CAGR. (1.2 * .9 is 1.08, and 1.039*1.039 is the same 1.08)

All that said, there is no guarantee the future returns will mimic the past. If you count on 12%/yr (or 10 for that matter) you will under-calculate the lump sum needed to retire 40 years hence and worse, risk not reaching that goal. But. Plan for 6-8%, as as you get closer you'll be able to easily adjust savings down to not retire with "too much." Waking up to find you're 55 and are 20 years away from the savings goal is "bad."

I probably answered the question I heard rather than the one you asked. I hope you learned something useful nonetheless.

  • I care more about my potential returns in the investment market as it relates to my retirement. As you mentioned your "working years", it makes me wonder why financial advisors don't calculate returns based on the "working years" only. For example, if I invest in a 401k from age 25 to 65, I'm mostly interested in my return performance for 40 years, not the totality of the stock market.
    – Sun
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 16:52

Ramsey always, practically every program, touts this advise but NEVER EVER gives a fund name or ticker symbol. The entire front is obviously to entice the listener to call one of his sponsored investment advisors. Beware always of what you hear. Everyone has an angle and if he really cared selflessly he would mention at least one of the fund names or ticker symbols on his program as he brags so highly of them. I listen to Bob Brinker's radio program every week. Never does Bob Brinker hide a fund name or ticker symbol.

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    Bob Brinker's and Dave Ramsey's shows are completely different. Brinker's show is all about market timing tips and stock tips. He promotes a newsletter containing his tips. The focus of Ramsey's show is not investing, and his philosophy is that people should learn about any investments that they make before they invest. That is why he does not mention individual funds on the show, and why he refers people to investment advisors when they are ready to invest.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 13:00
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    Also, a comment on the accepted answer confirms that Ramsey has mentioned American Funds on-air. So your "NEVER EVER" is wrong.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 13:55
  • I’ve been an FPU coordinator, but, in fairness, there is a difference between funds and fund families.
    – Greg Bacon
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 23:19
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    Yes, Dave Ramsey has mentioned American funds the family, but to my knowledge he never specifically names a fund. And he clearly knows the difference between them, because he explained the difference on a recent podcast episode to a listener. I'm sure he has his reasons, my guess is similar to Ben's--the focus is not on specific investing advice, but having a financial plan. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:17

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