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Emerging Market Funds: Understanding, Benefits & Risks

Last updated 03/19/2024 by

Bamigbola Paul

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An emerging market fund is a type of investment vehicle that primarily allocates its assets in securities from developing economies. These funds offer a diverse range of options across the risk spectrum and can be attractive for investors seeking potentially higher returns. However, they also come with inherent risks, including political instability and currency fluctuations. Understanding the nuances of these funds is crucial for investors looking to diversify their portfolios and capitalize on the growth potential of emerging economies.

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How does an emerging market fund work?

An emerging market fund operates as a mutual fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that primarily invests in securities from developing or emerging market economies. These economies typically demonstrate high growth potential but also come with inherent risks due to their evolving nature and volatile market conditions. The funds specialize in various asset classes such as stocks, bonds, and other securities, aiming to build diversified portfolios for investors seeking exposure to these emerging economies.

Factors influencing the classification of emerging markets

The classification of emerging markets is influenced by several critical factors:
  • Macroeconomic conditions
  • Rapidly increasing GDP rates
  • Political stability
  • Capital market processes
  • Financial market trading and settlement procedures
Investors should grasp the significance of these factors in determining the potential risks and returns associated with investing in emerging market funds.

Types of emerging market funds

Emerging market funds come in various types, each catering to different investor preferences and risk appetites. Some of the most common types of emerging market funds include:

1. Emerging market debt funds

Emerging market debt funds offer relatively lower risk among emerging market investments. These funds prioritize credit quality and provide access to debt investments with varying levels of risk. Investors can choose between passive and active funds, with leading indexes for passive market investment including the J.P. Morgan Emerging Market Bond Index and the Bloomberg Emerging Markets USD Aggregate Total Return Index.

2. Emerging market equity funds

Emerging market equity funds encompass a broad spectrum of companies from emerging markets worldwide. Investors can opt for passive indexes for emerging market exposure or select actively managed funds. Prominent indexes in this category include the MSCI Emerging Markets Index and the S&P Global Broad Market Index.

Examples of emerging market funds

Examining specific examples of emerging market funds can provide investors with a practical understanding of how these funds operate and the potential outcomes they offer:

American funds emerging markets bond fund

The American Funds Emerging Markets Bond Fund serves as an ideal investment for individuals seeking exposure to emerging market debt. This actively managed fund invests in government and corporate bonds from various emerging market economies, with substantial holdings in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia as of June 30, 2023.

American Century Emerging Markets Fund

The American Century Emerging Markets Fund exemplifies an emerging markets equity fund that relies on fundamental analysis to select stock investments for its portfolio. As of July 31, 2023, this fund primarily held investments in countries such as China, Taiwan, and India, reflecting its commitment to diverse and promising emerging market economies.

The risks associated with emerging market funds

Investing in emerging market funds entails certain risks that investors should carefully consider before making investment decisions. Some of the primary risks associated with these funds include:
  • Higher volatility and market fluctuations
  • Political instability and policy changes
  • Currency risk and exchange rate fluctuations
  • Liquidity risk and limited market accessibility
Understanding and evaluating these risks is vital in formulating a comprehensive investment strategy that accounts for potential downsides and safeguards the investment portfolio against adverse market conditions.

Benefits of investing in emerging market funds

Investing in emerging market funds offers various advantages that can significantly benefit investors seeking diverse and potentially lucrative investment opportunities. Some of the key benefits include:
  • Potential for high returns: Emerging market funds often present higher growth prospects compared to developed market funds, allowing investors to potentially earn substantial returns on their investments.
  • Diversification opportunities: These funds enable investors to diversify their portfolios by gaining exposure to rapidly growing economies across different geographic regions and sectors.
  • Access to untapped markets: Investing in emerging market funds provides access to markets that are still in the development phase, allowing investors to capitalize on the growth potential of industries that may not be accessible through traditional investment avenues.
  • Global portfolio diversification: By including emerging market funds in their investment portfolios, investors can create a well-balanced and globally diversified portfolio, thereby mitigating risks associated with market fluctuations in specific regions or countries.

Strategies for mitigating risks in emerging market funds

While investing in emerging market funds can offer substantial growth opportunities, it also comes with inherent risks that need to be carefully managed. Employing effective risk mitigation strategies can help investors safeguard their investments and minimize potential losses. Some key strategies include:
  • Thorough research and due diligence: Conducting comprehensive research on the political,economic, and social landscape of target emerging markets can provide valuable insights into the potential risks and rewards associated with specific investment opportunities.
  • Diversification across asset classes: Spreading investments across various asset classes, such as equities, bonds, and commodities, can help balance risks and optimize returns, even in volatile market conditions.
  • Active portfolio monitoring: Regularly monitoring the performance of the portfolio and staying informed about market trends and geopolitical developments can enable investors to make timely and well-informed decisions to minimize potential risks.
  • Hedging against currency risks: Employing hedging strategies, such as using currency futures or options, can help mitigate the impact of adverse currency fluctuations on investment returns, especially in markets with volatile exchange rates.


Emerging market funds serve as a valuable investment tool for individuals seeking exposure to the high-growth potential of emerging market economies. While these funds offer promising returns, they also carry inherent risks that investors must carefully evaluate and manage. By understanding the intricacies of these funds, investors can make informed decisions that align with their risk appetites and long-term financial goals. It is essential to conduct thorough research, consider expert advice, and closely monitor market trends to ensure a well-diversified and resilient investment portfolio.

Frequently asked questions

What are the main risks associated with investing in emerging market funds?

Investing in emerging market funds comes with certain risks that investors should be aware of, including higher volatility, political instability, and currency fluctuations.

How do I determine if an emerging market fund is suitable for my investment portfolio?

Assessing your risk tolerance and long-term investment goals is crucial in determining whether an emerging market fund aligns with your overall investment strategy and financial objectives.

What are the key factors to consider when choosing an emerging market fund?

Several critical factors should be considered, such as the fund’s historical performance, asset allocation strategy, expense ratios, and the expertise of the fund manager or management team.

Can I minimize the risks associated with emerging market funds?

While it’s not possible to eliminate risks entirely, employing effective risk mitigation strategies such as diversification, thorough research, and active portfolio monitoring can help minimize potential losses.

Are there any tax implications associated with investing in emerging market funds?

Investors should be aware of any potential tax implications, including foreign tax withholding on dividends, capital gains taxes, and other tax-related considerations when investing in emerging market funds.

What role does geopolitical stability play in the performance of emerging market funds?

Geopolitical stability can significantly impact the performance of emerging market funds, as political changes and geopolitical tensions can create market uncertainties, affecting investment returns and overall portfolio stability.

Key takeaways

  • Emerging market funds primarily invest in securities from developing economies, offering the potential for high returns.
  • These funds come with inherent risks, including higher volatility, political instability, and currency fluctuations.
  • Investors can choose between different types of emerging market funds, such as debt funds and equity funds, based on their risk tolerance and investment preferences.
  • Thorough research and understanding of market dynamics are essential for effectively managing risks and optimizing investment returns in emerging market funds.

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