I worked for over 35 years in the investment management business, all on the buy-side, and mostly for life insurance companies in fixed income investing (private placement loans). I have personally been investing in individual stocks for longer than that amount of time, beginnign in the 1970's when I served in the Air Force. I prefer to know the companies that I own and therefore rarely use mutual funds. I also actively write covered calls as a supplementary strategy. I like ETF's for niches such as foreign stocks and use 'LQD' for a good yielding bond proxy and to supplement my ten year individual bond ladder holdings.