The F Fund's investment objective is to match the performance of the Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, a broad index representing the U.S. bond market.
The F Fund assets are held in a separate account and managed to track the Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond Index. This broad index includes U.S. Government, mortgage-backed, corporate, and foreign government (issued in the U.S.) sectors of the U.S. bond market. The earnings consist of interest income on the securities and gains (or losses) in the value of the securities.
The F Fund uses an indexing approach to investing. In other words, it is a passively managed fund that remains invested according to its investment strategy regardless of conditions in the bond market or the economy.
Because the F Fund returns move up and down with the returns in the bond market, your F Fund investment is subject to market risk. For example, when interest rates rise, bond prices (and thus, the returns of the index and the F Fund) fall. Conversely, in an environment of falling interest rates, bond prices, as well as the index and F Fund returns, rise.
As an F Fund investor, you are also exposed to credit (default) risk, or the possibility that principal and interest payments on the bonds that comprise the index will not be paid.
The F Fund is subject to inflation risk, meaning your F Fund investment may not grow enough to offset the reduction in purchasing power that results from inflation.
Your F Fund investment is also exposed to prepayment risk, which is the probability that if interest rates fall, bonds that are represented in the index will be paid back early thus forcing lenders to reinvest at lower rates.
Although there are several types of risks associated with the F Fund, the overall risk is relatively low in comparison to certain other fixed income investments in the market because the F Fund includes only investment-grade securities. As a result, F Fund investors are rewarded with the opportunity to earn higher rates of return over the long term than they would from investments in short-term securities such as the G Fund.
How can I use the F Fund in my TSP account?
In periods of falling interest rates, the F Fund will experience gains from the resulting rise in bond prices. So in the long run, you may expect F Fund returns to exceed those of the G Fund; however, you should also expect greater price volatility (up and down movements).
It is also important to know that higher returns are not guaranteed. This is because losses may occur when interest rates are rising, causing bond prices to fall.
The F Fund can be useful in a portfolio that also contains stocks funds. This is because the prices of bonds and stocks don't always move in the same direction or by the same amount at the same time. So a retirement portfolio that contains stock funds, like the C, S, and I Funds, along with the F Fund, will tend to be less volatile than one that contains stock funds alone.
Need more info?
For more detailed information about the F Fund, see the F Fund Information Sheet.