Decrease in mutual fund investors has forced market consolidation

As retail providers pull assets away from traditional mutual funds, in favor of products like exchange-traded funds, they are spreading their remaining mutual fund dollars among fewer providers, which has resulted in significant market consolidation. According to the 2012 Investor Brandscape, an annual report by Cogent Research, 71 percent of affluent investors with at least $100,000 in investable assets now own mutual funds, down 4 percentage points from 2010.

Additionally, the share of total investor assets that mutual funds represent has declined from 33 percent in 2010 to 26 percent at the end of 2011. With fewer dollars allocated to mutual funds, the average number of fund providers that investors tap has declined from 1.9 to 1.56.

That survey of 4,000 affluent investors also found that the number of new client accounts in which mutual fund companies are being used increased over the past year from 1.98 to 2.03.

“There have long been predications of a market consolidation in the mutual fund space, but such predictions were largely based on acquisition scenarios within the context of an expanding market,” said John Meunier, Cogent Research Principal and author of the 2012 Investor Brandscape report. “Instead, the consolidation we see today is the result of firms being forced to compete for a shrinking pool of mutual fund assets.”

The 2012 Investor Brandscape report reveals that just four fund providers – Schwab/Laudus Funds, J. P. Morgan Funds, ING Funds, and Fidelity Advisor Funds – managed to increase overall market penetration and improve the ratio of primary client investors. “Like all mutual fund providers, these firms still must contend with investors allocating less to mutual funds,” said Meunier. “But from a competitive standpoint these firms are definitely gaining, not losing, strength.”

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