Sixty-eight percent of the 48 million U.S. households owning mutual funds use the Internet, up from 62 percent in 1998, a July Investment Company Institute study revealed. The median shareholder who used the Internet has $40,000 invested in four funds, is 42 years old, has a household income of $63,000 and household financial assets of $100,900, according to the study. Use of the Internet is highest in fund households headed by individuals under age 35 and lowest in households headed by individuals age 65 or older. The study also found that Internet use increases with household income. Ninety-one percent of households with income of $100,000 or more used the Internet, compared to only one-half of those with income under $25,000, the study found.
Shareholders use the Internet to review fund performance, check share prices and obtain other information about their accounts. Between April 1999 and March 2000, forty-two percent viewed expense ratios for specific funds and 39 percent checked sales charges for specific funds. Shareholders owning direct-marketed funds visited fund websites more than those owning sales force-marketed funds or funds from employer-sponsored retirement plans, the study found.
Fifty-one percent of all fund-owning households conducted transactions online, but only nine percent of all fund-holding households bought or sold fund shares online. Buyers outnumbered sellers three to two. Those who conducted transactions online were more often younger, college-educated owners of individual stock, with greater household income and financial assets, but smaller mutual fund portfolios, according to the study.