Mutual fund assets rose by 8.6% to some $14.8 trillion as of the end of February, but still below the $15.4 trillion asset level in September, according to a new Cerulli report. Net flows added $36.7 billion to mutual fund coffers in January and $29.2 billion in February.
ETF assets have now fully recovered from the fourth-quarter downturn, after having risen to $3.72 trillion during February, according to the report. This was a new all-time high, surpassing the $3.71 trillion amassed in September. The January and February equity market rebounds helped push ETF assets up by 10% for the year.
Both active and passive mutual funds experienced positive net flows in February for the second month in a row, Cerulli reported. Active assets climbed back over the $11 trillion mark in January, and rose again in February, ending the month up by 1.7% at $11.2 trillion. Passive assets increased by 3% in February to nearly $7.3 trillion.
The report said that over the last 12 months, market share, assets and revenue of U.S. equity mutual funds continued to grow, thanks to recently revived equity performance, even though the asset class experienced net negative flows. Net flows, it said, have instead favored fixed income mutual funds, with a preference toward active management.
Cerulli said an increasing amount of mutual fund net flows and assets were becoming concentrated among low-cost share classes that often strip out distribution fees (12b-1 fees) and accounting/recordkeeping fees (sub-TA fees).
It noted that Fidelity’s product platform recently endured criticism for a 15 basis point “infrastructure fee,” which is levied on managers whose products’ 12b-1 and sub-TA fees do not meet 15 basis points.