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Mutual Funds Less Popular Among Youngest, Oldest Investors

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Surprise – it’s not just Baby Boomers who invest in mutual funds, the latest industry research finds.

Close to 50% of Generation Xers own these financial products, which puts them very close to the average fund ownership level of boomers.

Meanwhile, both older generations and younger ones have room to catch up, numbers released by the annual Investment Company Institute on Friday show. The percent of households headed by millennials, as well as members of the Silent and G.I. generations, have an average fund ownership level of slightly above 30%.

“Our 2014 household survey showed that mutual funds are an investment staple in about half the households headed by either a baby boomer or member of Generation X,” said Sarah Holden, ICI senior director of retirement and investor research, in a statement.

“This high incidence of ownership makes sense in light of the findings that among mutual fund–owning households, most are headed by individuals in their peak earning years, most own mutual funds in a tax-deferred account, and nearly all are focused on retirement saving,” Holden explained.

(Baby boomers are defined as those born between 1946 and 1964, while Gen Xers are classified as individuals between 1965 and 1980; millennials are those born from 1981 to 1996, and members of the Silent and G.I. generations were born between 1904 and 1945.)

Overall, some 53.2 million U.S. households, or 43%, own mutual funds, the most recent survey shows. This figure includes more than 90 million individual investors.

Of this total, baby boomers represent about 42% fund–owning households and own about 51% of all fund assets overall.

More Findings

Three times as many U.S. households owned mutual funds through tax-deferred accounts as owned mutual funds outside such accounts, the poll of 6,000 investors finds.

Some 50 million households hold them in employer-sponsored retirement plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and variable annuities vs. 14.6 million households owning funds outside tax-deferred accounts, according to ICI. (Those figures include 11.4 million households with funds both inside and outside tax-deferred accounts.)

Saving for retirement is a financial goal for 91% of fund–owning households, and almost three-quarters see retirement saving as the household’s primary financial goal.

Fund–owning households often own several funds, and equity funds are the most commonly owned type of mutual fund: 83% own more than one fund and 86% include equity funds in their holdings.

As for what matters most to fund investors, two-thirds say performance is a “very” important factor influencing their views of the industry. In fact, more than four in 10 cite fund performance as the most important factor.

— Check out Top 5 Fund Managers for 2013: Morningstar on ThinkAdvisor.


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