What You Need to Know
- U.S. fund expense ratios have declined for more than two decades.
- Vanguard maintained the lowest expense ratio among asset managers.
- Sustainable funds collect a 'greenium' from investors, but the average there is declining, too.
U.S. funds’ asset-weighted average expense ratio fell to 0.40% in 2021 from 0.42% a year earlier, according to the study, which evaluates cost trends for U.S. open-end mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.
“Intensifying competition among asset managers and changes in the economics of advice are two factors driving fees lower,” Bryan Armour, Morningstar director of passive strategies research for North America, said in a statement. “Investors are also increasingly aware of the importance of minimizing investment costs, which we expect to continue in this down market.”
The average expense ratio paid by fund investors has been declining for more than two decades, Morningstar said, noting that the most recent average compares with 0.87% in 2001.
For active funds, the asset-weighted average expense ratio fell to 0.60% in 2021 from 0.63% in 2020, according to the research firm. Large net outflows from expensive funds and share classes accounted for most of the change, with inflows to cheaper ones also contributing.