Investors are turning to low-cost options more and more, according to Cerulli's latest release of its annual coverage of retail investor product use in the U.S.

This preference is a contributing factor to other trends that Cerulli is tracking, most notably the growth of the direct channel, and also of independent advisor channels.

After hitting a low of $8.8 trillion in assets in 2008, overall open-end mutual assets reached their highest levels-topping $11 trillion by the end of the first quarter of 2012. Although there was a positive start to 2012, investors remain skeptical of the overall health of the U.S. economy. In 2011, open-end mutual funds experienced net redemptions in excess of $72 billion. This is, however, an improvement over a loss of $267 billion in 2010 and $143 billion in 2009.

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