company Web sites to provide information and pricing are now a necessity, confirms a new study by the Investment Company Institute
. The study found that fund shareholders commonly use the Internet to obtain information about fund performance, cost and other account information.
Fully 68 percent of the 48 million U.S. households owning mutual funds use the Internet. Nearly half of those shareholders who use the Internet visited a fund company Web during the study period (April, 1999 to March, 2000). What were they looking for? Shareholders most frequently visited fund websites to review fund performance information, share prices, and general information about their accounts. They also checked expense ratios for specific funds (42 percent), examined sales charges for specific funds (39 percent).
Shareholders who used the Internet typically had $40,000 invested in four funds. The median age of shareholders on the Internet was 42 years; their median household income, $63,900; and median household financial assets, $100,900, according to the study.
Although slightly more than half (51 percent) of all fund-owning households conducted fund transactions during the prior year, including allocation changes to their retirement plan contributions and account balances, only 9 percent bought or sold fund shares online, said the ICI. Shareholders who bought fund shares online outnumbered online sellers by three to two.
Shareholders who conducted mutual fund transactions online were typically younger, with greater household income and household financial assets, but owned smaller mutual fund portfolios than those who conducted transactions by other methods.
Fund shareholders also used the Internet for other financial purposes. Sixty percent of fund households that are online used the Internet to check stock prices; 49 percent to read online financial publications, and 44 percent to seek information about retirement or personal financial planning.
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