Mutual fund

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A mutual fund is an open-end professionally managed investment fund [1] that pools money from many investors to purchase securities. These investors may be retail or institutional in nature. The term is typically used in the United States and India, while similar structures across the globe include the SICAV in Europe ('investment company with variable capital') and open-ended investment company (OEIC) in the UK.

Contents

Mutual funds have advantages and disadvantages compared to direct investing in individual securities. The advantages of mutual funds include economies of scale, diversification, liquidity, and professional management. However, these come with mutual fund fees and expenses.

Primary structures of mutual funds are open-end funds, unit investment trusts, closed-end funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Mutual funds are often classified by their principal investments as money market funds, bond or fixed income funds, stock or equity funds, hybrid funds, or other. Funds may also be categorized as index funds, which are passively managed funds that match the performance of an index, or actively managed funds. Hedge funds are not mutual funds as hedge funds cannot be sold to the general public.

History

Early history

The first modern investment funds (the precursor of today's mutual funds) were established in the Dutch Republic. In response to the financial crisis, of 1772–1773, Amsterdam-based businessman Abraham (or Adriaan) van Ketwich formed a trust named Eendragt Maakt Magt ("unity creates strength"). His aim was to provide small investors with an opportunity to diversify. [2] [3]

Mutual funds were introduced to the United States in the 1890s. Early U.S. funds were generally closed-end funds with a fixed number of shares that often traded at prices above the portfolio net asset value. The first open-end mutual fund with redeemable shares was established on March 21, 1924, as the Massachusetts Investors Trust (which still in existence today and managed by MFS Investment Management).

In the United States, closed-end funds remained more popular than open-end funds throughout the 1920s. In 1929, open-end funds accounted for only 5% of the industry's $27 billion in total assets.

After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the United States Congress passed a series of acts regulating the securities markets in general and mutual funds in particular.

These new regulations encouraged the development of open-end mutual funds (as opposed to closed-end funds). [4]

Growth in the U.S. mutual fund industry remained limited until the 1950s when confidence in the stock market returned. In the 1960s, Boston's Fidelity Investments began the marketing of mutual funds to the public at large, rather than only wealthier individuals or those working in the finance industry. [5] The introduction of money market funds in the high-interest rate environment of the late 1970s boosted industry growth dramatically. The first retail index fund, First Index Investment Trust, was formed in 1976 by The Vanguard Group, headed by John Bogle; it is now called the "Vanguard 500 Index Fund" and is one of the world's largest mutual funds.

Beginning the 1980s, the mutual fund industry began a period of growth that has continued largely uninterrupted through the present day. (For instance, global mutual fund assets have increased in every year since 2003 except for 2008 and 2011. [6] [7] ) According to Robert Pozen and Theresa Hamacher, growth was the result of three factors:

  1. A bull market for both stocks and bonds,
  2. New product introductions (including funds based on municipal bonds, various industry sectors, international funds, and target date funds) and
  3. Wider distribution of fund shares. Among the new distribution channels were retirement plans. Mutual funds are now the a preferred investment option in certain types of retirement plans, specifically in 401(k), other defined contribution plans and in individual retirement accounts (IRAs), all of which surged in popularity in the 1980s. [8]

In 2003, the mutual fund industry was involved in a scandal involving unequal treatment of fund shareholders. Some fund management companies allowed favored investors to engage in late trading, which is illegal, or market timing, which is a practice prohibited by fund policy. The scandal was initially discovered by former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and led to a significant increase in regulation. In a study about German mutual funds Gomolka (2007) found statistical evidence of illegal time zone arbitrage in trading of German mutual funds. [9] Though reported to regulators BaFin never commented on these results.

Mutual funds today

At the end of 2019, mutual fund assets worldwide were $54.9 trillion, according to the Investment Company Institute. [7] The countries with the largest mutual fund industries are:

  1. United Kingdom: $26.7 trillion
  2. Australia: $5.3 trillion
  3. Ireland: $3.4 trillion
  4. Germany: $2.5 trillion
  5. Luxembourg: $2.2 trillion
  6. France: $2.2 trillion
  7. Japan: $2.1 trillion
  8. Canada: $1.9 trillion
  9. United States: $1.9 trillion
  10. China: $1.4 trillion

In the United States, mutual funds play an important role in U.S. household finances. At the end of 2019, 23% of household financial assets were held in mutual funds. Their role in retirement savings was even more significant since mutual funds accounted for roughly half of the assets in individual retirement accounts, 401(k)s and other similar retirement plans. [7] In total, mutual funds are large investors in stocks and bonds.

Luxembourg and Ireland are the primary jurisdictions for the registration of UCITS funds. These funds may be sold throughout the European Union and in other countries that have adopted mutual recognition regimes.

At the end of 2018, the largest mutual fund managers in the United States based on assets under management were: [10]

  1. Vanguard Group: $4.7 trillion
  2. Fidelity: $1.7 trillion
  3. BlackRock: $1.7 trillion
  4. Capital Group: $1.6 trillion
  5. T. Rowe Price: $0.7 trillion
  6. State Street: $0.6 trillion
  7. Dimensional: $0.4 trillion
  8. JPMorgan Asset Management: $0.4 trillion
  9. Franklin Templeton Group: $0.3 trillion
  10. Invesco: $0.3 trillion

Features

Mutual funds have advantages and disadvantages compared to alternative structures or investing directly in individual securities. According to Robert Pozen and Theresa Hamacher, these are:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Mutual funds have disadvantages as well, which include:

Regulation and operation

United States

In the United States, the principal laws governing mutual funds are:

Open-end and closed-end funds (including exchange-traded funds) are overseen by a board of directors if organized as a corporation, or by a board of trustees, if organized as a trust. The Board must ensure that the fund is managed in the interests of the fund's investors. The board hires the fund manager and other service providers to the fund.

The sponsor or fund management company often referred to as the fund manager, trades (buys and sells) the fund's investments in accordance with the fund's investment objective. Funds that are managed by the same company under the same brand are known as a fund family or fund complex. A fund manager must be a registered investment adviser.

European Union

In the European Union, funds are governed by laws and regulations established by their home country. However, the European Union has established a mutual recognition regime that allows funds regulated in one country to be sold in all other countries in the European Union, if they comply with certain requirements. The directive establishing this regime is the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities Directive 2009, and funds that comply with its requirements are known as UCITS funds.

Canada

Regulation of mutual funds in Canada is primarily governed by National Instrument 81-102 "Mutual Funds", which is implemented separately in each province or territory. The Canadian Securities Administrator works to harmonize regulation across Canada. [14]

Hong Kong

In the Hong Kong market mutual funds are regulated by two authorities:

Taiwan

In Taiwan, mutual funds are regulated by the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC). [17]

Fund structures

There are three primary structures of mutual funds: open-end funds, unit investment trusts, and closed-end funds. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are open-end funds or unit investment trusts that trade on an exchange.

Open-end funds

Open-end mutual funds must be willing to buy back ("redeem") their shares from their investors at the [[net asset value]] (NAV) computed that day based upon the prices of the securities owned by the fund. In the United States, open-end funds must be willing to buy back shares at the end of every business day. In other jurisdictions, open-funds may only be required to buy back shares at longer intervals. For example, UCITS funds in Europe are only required to accept redemptions twice each month (though most UCITS accept redemptions daily).

Most open-end funds also sell shares to the public every business day; these shares are priced at NAV.

Open-end funds are often referred to simply as "mutual funds".

In the United States at the end of 2019, there were 7,945 open-end mutual funds with combined assets of $21.3 trillion, accounting for 83% of the U.S. industry. [7]

Unit investment trusts

Unit investment trusts (UITs) are issued to the public only once when they are created. UITs generally have a limited life span, established at creation. Investors can redeem shares directly with the fund at any time (similar to an open-end fund) or wait to redeem them upon the trust's termination. Less commonly, they can sell their shares in the open market.

Unlike other types of mutual funds, unit investment trusts do not have a professional investment manager. Their portfolio of securities is established at the creation of the UIT.

In the United States, at the end of 2019, there were 4,571 UITs with combined assets of less than $0.1 trillion. [7]

Closed-end funds

Closed-end funds generally issue shares to the public only once, when they are created through an initial public offering. Their shares are then listed for trading on a stock exchange. Investors who want to sell their shares must sell their shares to another investor in the market; they cannot sell their shares back to the fund. The price that investors receive for their shares may be significantly different from NAV; it may be at a "premium" to NAV (i.e., higher than NAV) or, more commonly, at a "discount" to NAV (i.e., lower than NAV).

In the United States, at the end of 2019, there were 500 closed-end mutual funds with combined assets of $0.28 trillion. [7]

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) combine characteristics of both closed-end funds and open-end funds. They are structured as open-end investment companies or UITs. ETFs are traded throughout the day on a stock exchange. An arbitrage mechanism is used to keep the trading price close to net asset value of the ETF holdings.

In the United States, at the end of 2019, there were 2,096 ETFs in the United States with combined assets of $4.4 trillion, accounting for 17% of the U.S. industry. [7]

Classification of funds by types of underlying investments

Mutual funds may be classified by their principal investments, as described in the prospectus and investment objective. The four main categories of funds are money market funds, bond or fixed-income funds, stock or equity funds, and hybrid funds. Within these categories, funds may be sub-classified by investment objective, investment approach, or specific focus.

The types of securities that a particular fund may invest in are set forth in the fund's prospectus, a legal document that describes the fund's investment objective, investment approach and permitted investments. The investment objective describes the type of income that the fund seeks. For example, a capital appreciation fund generally looks to earn most of its returns from increases in the prices of the securities it holds, rather than from dividend or interest income. The investment approach describes the criteria that the fund manager uses to select investments for the fund.

Bond, stock, and hybrid funds may be classified as either index (or passively-managed) funds or actively managed funds.

Alternative investments which incorporate advanced techniques such as hedging known as "liquid alternatives".

Money market funds

Money market funds invest in money market instruments, which are fixed income securities with a very short time to maturity and high credit quality. Investors often use money market funds as a substitute for bank savings accounts, though money market funds are not insured by the government, unlike bank savings accounts.

In the United States, money market funds sold to retail investors and those investing in government securities may maintain a stable net asset value of $1 per share, when they comply with certain conditions. Money market funds sold to institutional investors that invest in non-government securities must compute a net asset value based on the value of the securities held in the funds.

In the United States, at the end of 2019, assets in money market funds were $3.6 trillion, representing 14% of the industry. [7]

Bond funds

Bond funds invest in fixed income or debt securities. Bond funds can be sub-classified according to:

In the United States, at the end of 2019, assets in bond funds (of all types) were $5.7 trillion, representing 22% of the industry. [7]

Stock funds

Stock or equity funds invest in common stocks. Stock funds may focus on a particular area of the stock market, such as

In the United States, at the end of 2019, assets in stock funds (of all types) were $15.0 trillion, representing 58% of the industry. [7]

Funds which invest in a relatively small number of stocks are known as "focus funds."

Hybrid funds

Hybrid funds invest in both bonds and stocks or in convertible securities. Balanced funds, asset allocation funds, target date or target-risk funds, and lifecycle or lifestyle funds are all types of hybrid funds.

Hybrid funds may be structured as funds of funds, meaning that they invest by buying shares in other mutual funds that invest in securities. Many funds of funds invest in affiliated funds (meaning mutual funds managed by the same fund sponsor), although some invest in unaffiliated funds (i.e., managed by other fund sponsors) or some combination of the two.

In the United States, at the end of 2019, assets in hybrid funds were $1.6 trillion, representing 6% of the industry. [7]

Other funds

Funds may invest in commodities or other investments.

Expenses

Investors in a mutual fund pay the fund's expenses. Some of these expenses reduce the value of an investor's account; others are paid by the fund and reduce net asset value.

These expenses fall into five categories:

Management fee

The management fee is paid by the fund to the management company or sponsor that organizes the fund, provides the portfolio management or investment advisory services, and normally lends its brand to the fund. The fund manager may also provide other administrative services. The management fee often has breakpoints, which means that it declines as assets (in either the specific fund or in the fund family as a whole) increase. The fund's board reviews the management fee annually. Fund shareholders must vote on any proposed increase, but the fund manager or sponsor can agree to waive some or all of the management fees in order to lower the fund's expense ratio.

Index funds generally charge a lower management fee than actively-managed funds.

Distribution charges

Distribution charges pay for marketing, distribution of the fund's shares as well as services to investors. There are three types of distribution charges.

Distribution charges generally vary for each share class.

Securities transaction fees incurred by the fund

A mutual fund pays expenses related to buying or selling the securities in its portfolio. These expenses may include brokerage commissions. These costs are normally positively correlated with turnover.

Shareholder transaction fees

Shareholders may be required to pay fees for certain transactions, such as buying or selling shares of the fund. A fund may charge a fee for maintaining an individual retirement account for an investor.

Some funds charge redemption fees when an investor sells fund shares shortly after buying them (usually defined as within 30, 60, or 90 days of purchase). Redemption fees are computed as a percentage of the sale amount. Shareholder transaction fees are not part of the expense ratio.

Fund services charges

A mutual fund may pay for other services including:

The fund manager or sponsor may agree to subsidize some of these charges.

Expense ratio

The expense ratio equals recurring fees and expenses charged to the fund during the year divided by average net assets. The management fee and fund services charges are ordinarily included in the expense ratio. Front-end and back-end loads, securities transaction fees, and shareholder transaction fees are normally excluded.

To facilitate comparisons of expenses, regulators generally require that funds use the same formula to compute the expense ratio and publish the results.

No-load fund

In the United States, a fund that calls itself "no-load" cannot charge a front-end load or back-end load under any circumstances and cannot charge a distribution and services fee greater than 0.25% of fund assets

Controversy regarding fees and expenses

Critics of the fund industry argue that fund expenses are too high. They believe that the market for mutual funds is not competitive and that there are many hidden fees so that it is difficult for investors to reduce the fees that they pay. They argue that the most effective way for investors to raise the returns they earn from mutual funds is to invest in funds with low expense ratios.

Fund managers counter that fees are determined by a highly competitive market and, therefore, reflect the value that investors attribute to the service provided. They also note that fees are clearly disclosed.

Definitions of key terms

Average annual total return

Mutual funds in the United States are required to report the average annual compounded rates of return for one-, five-and-ten year-periods using the following formula: [18]

P(1+T)n = ERV

Where:

P = a hypothetical initial payment of $1,000

T = average annual total return

n = number of years

ERV = ending redeemable value of a hypothetical $1,000 payment made at the beginning of the one-, five-, or ten-year periods at the end of the one-, five-, or ten-year periods (or fractional portion).

Market capitalization

Market capitalization equals the number of a company's shares outstanding multiplied by the market price of the stock. Market capitalization is an indication of the size of a company. Typical ranges of market capitalizations are:

Net asset value

A fund's net asset value (NAV) equals the current market value of a fund's holdings minus the fund's liabilities (this figure may also be referred to as the fund's "net assets"). It is usually expressed as a per-share amount, computed by dividing net assets by the number of fund shares outstanding. Funds must compute their net asset value according to the rules set forth in their prospectuses. Most compute their NAV at the end of each business day.

Valuing the securities held in a fund's portfolio is often the most difficult part of calculating net asset value. The fund's board typically oversees security valuation.

Share classes

A single mutual fund may give investors a choice of different combinations of front-end loads, back-end loads and distribution and services fee, by offering several different types of shares, known as share classes. All of them invest in the same portfolio of securities, but each has different expenses and, therefore, different net asset values and different performance results. Some of these share classes may be available only to certain types of investors.

Typical share classes for funds sold through brokers or other intermediaries in the United States are:

No-load funds in the United States often have two classes of shares:

Neither class of shares typically charges a front-end or back-end load.

Portfolio Turnover

Portfolio Turnover is a measure of the volume of a fund's securities trading. It is expressed as a percentage of the average market value of the portfolio's long-term securities. Turnover is the lesser of a fund's purchases or sales during a given year divided by average long-term securities market value for the same period. If the period is less than a year, turnover is generally annualized.

See also

Related Research Articles

An index fund is a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) designed to follow certain preset rules so that the fund can track a specified basket of underlying investments. Those rules may include tracking prominent indexes like the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average or implementation rules, such as tax-management, tracking error minimization, large block trading or patient/flexible trading strategies that allows for greater tracking error, but lower market impact costs. Index funds may also have rules that screen for social and sustainable criteria.

Open-end fund is a collective investment scheme that can issue and redeem shares at any time. An investor will generally purchase shares in the fund directly from the fund itself, rather than from the existing shareholders. The term contrasts with a closed-end fund, which typically issues at the outset all the shares that it will issue, with such shares usually thereafter being tradable among investors.

A closed-end fund (CEF) or closed-ended fund is a collective investment model based on issuing a fixed number of shares which are not redeemable from the fund. Unlike open-end funds, new shares in a closed-end fund are not created by managers to meet demand from investors. Instead, the shares can be purchased and sold only in the market, which is the original design of the mutual fund, which predates open-end mutual funds but offers the same actively-managed pooled investments.

Fidelity Investments Inc., commonly referred to as Fidelity, earlier as Fidelity Management & Research or FMR, is an American multinational financial services corporation based in Boston, Massachusetts.

An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, much like stocks. An ETF holds assets such as stocks, commodities, or bonds and generally operates with an arbitrage mechanism designed to keep it trading close to its net asset value, although deviations can occasionally occur. Most ETFs track an index, such as a stock index or bond index. ETFs may be attractive as investments because of their low costs, tax efficiency, and stock-like features.

The Vanguard Group is an American registered investment advisor based in Malvern, Pennsylvania with over $6.2 trillion in assets under management. It is the largest provider of mutual funds and the second-largest provider of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the world after BlackRock's iShares. In addition to mutual funds and ETFs, Vanguard offers brokerage services, variable and fixed annuities, educational account services, financial planning, asset management, and trust services.

A money market fund is an open-ended mutual fund that invests in short-term debt securities such as US Treasury bills and commercial paper. Money market funds are managed with the goal of maintaining a highly stable asset value through liquid investments, while paying income to investors in the form of dividends. Although they are not insured against loss, actual losses have been quite rare in practice.

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Net asset value (NAV) is the value of an entity's assets minus the value of its liabilities, often in relation to open-end or mutual funds, since shares of such funds registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are redeemed at their net asset value. It is also a key figure with regard to hedge funds and venture capital funds when calculating the value of the underlying investments in these funds by investors. This may also be the same as the book value or the equity value of a business. Net asset value may represent the value of the total equity, or it may be divided by the number of shares outstanding held by investors, thereby representing the net asset value per share.

Investment management is the professional asset management of various securities and other assets in order to meet specified investment goals for the benefit of the investors. Investors may be institutions or private investors.

Active management refers to a portfolio management strategy where the manager makes specific investments with the goal of outperforming an investment benchmark index or target return. In passive management, investors expect a return that closely replicates the investment weighting and returns of a benchmark index and will often invest in an index fund.

A "fund of funds" (FOF) is an investment strategy of holding a portfolio of other investment funds rather than investing directly in stocks, bonds or other securities. This type of investing is often referred to as multi-manager investment. A fund of funds may be "fettered", meaning that it invests only in funds managed by the same investment company, or "unfettered", meaning that it can invest in external funds run by other managers.

BlackRock U.S.-headquartered multinational investment management corporation

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A unit trust is a form of collective investment constituted under a trust deed. A unit trust pools investors' money into a single fund, which is managed by a fund manager. Unit trusts offer access to a wide range of investments, and depending on the trust, it may invest in securities such as shares, bonds, gilts, and also properties, mortgage and cash equivalents. Those investing in the trust own "units" whose price is called the "net asset value" (NAV). The number of these units is not fixed and when more is invested in a unit trust, more units are created.

Mutual fund fees and expenses are charges that may be incurred by investors who hold mutual funds. Operating a mutual fund involves costs, including shareholder transaction costs, investment advisory fees, and marketing and distribution expenses. Funds pass along these costs to investors in several ways.

The expense ratio of a stock or asset fund is the total percentage of fund assets used for administrative, management, advertising (12b-1), and all other expenses. An expense ratio of 1% per annum means that each year 1% of the fund's total assets will be used to cover expenses. The expense ratio does not include sales loads or brokerage commissions.

The Iman Fund invests in Shariah compliant companies, in response to the needs of Muslim investors, who not only want to have a financially rewarding investment, but a Shariah compatible one as well. Since its inception on June 30, 2000, IMANX has provided Muslim investors with financial alternatives based on Islamic law.

A performance fee is a fee that a client account or an investment fund may be charged by the investment manager that manages its assets. A performance fee may be calculated many ways. With respect to a separate account, it is often based on the change in net realized and unrealized gains, although in some cases, it can be based on other measures, such as net income generated. While not very common, some fund managers have attempted to link the performance fee to both upward and downward movement in a fund's gains, such as the shock absorber fee, where the fund manager gets penalised for adverse movement in the fund value. With respect to hedge funds and other investment funds, it is generally calculated by reference to the increase in the clientfund's net asset value, which represents the value of the fund's investments. Performance fees are widely used by the investment managers of hedge funds, which typically charge a performance fee of 20% of the increase in the NAV of the fund in addition to the base management fee.

In the investment management industry, a separately managed account (SMA) is any of several different types of investment accounts. For example, an SMA may be an individual managed investment account; these are often offered by a brokerage firm through one of their brokers or financial consultants and managed by independent investment management firms ; they have varying fee structures. These particular types of SMAs may be called "wrap fee" or "dual contract" accounts, depending on their structure. There is no official designation for the SMA, but there are common characteristics that are represented in many types of SMA programs. These characteristics include an open structure or flexible investment security choices; multiple money managers; and a customized investment portfolio formulated for a client's specific investment objectives or desired restrictions.

Investment fund way of investing money alongside other investors in order to benefit from the inherent advantages of working as part of a group

An investment fund is a way of investing money alongside other investors in order to benefit from the inherent advantages of working as part of a group. These advantages include an ability to:

References

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Further reading