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Fund Spy

Investors Drive Expense Ratios Down

A Morningstar study shows the average fundholder pays 15% less than five years ago.

Investors are paying less for fund management. A new Morningstar study released today shows that the asset-weighted expense ratio across all funds (including mutual funds and exchange-traded products, or ETPs, but excluding money market funds and funds of funds) was 0.64% in 2014, down from 0.65% in 2013 and 0.76% five years ago. The trend is being driven more by investors seeking low-cost funds than it is by fund companies cutting fees.

Investors Are Choosing Low-Cost Funds
During the past decade, low-cost funds have been attracting far more inflows than their more-expensive peers. This has helped to reduce the industry’s average asset-weighted expense ratio over time. Mutual funds and ETPs with expense ratios ranking in the least-expensive quintile of all funds attracted an aggregate $3.03 trillion of estimated net inflows during the past 10 years, compared with just $160 billion for funds in the remaining four quintiles. That is to say that 95% of all flows have gone into funds in the lowest-cost quintile. Passive funds (mutual funds and ETPs) have been prominent recipients of the capital flowing into low-cost funds. Compared with funds falling in cost quintiles 2 through 5, funds in the lowest-cost quintile are more likely to be index funds.