If mutual fund executives needed a reason to reexamine their fund offerings, retirement calculators and the way they communicate with investors, there were a number of disturbing reports and news last week that should absolutely prod them to do so. And if fund executives aren't rethinking their entire sales and marketing strategies for 2009 and 2010, they should bet their bottom dollar that investors are painfully aware that they need to conduct reality checks on their retirement pictures.
Relief is not at hand. Economists are now widely predicting a recovery will not happen for another one to two years (see front-page story, "U.S. to Lead Economic Recovery-in 2010"). Whereas economists have traditionally pointed to light at the end of the tunnel in one or two quarters, this degree of pessimism is highly unusual. And if it comes true, investors who have been neutral toward mutual fund companies, since they do not blame them for the economic chaos, could turn negative toward companies that continue to tout the tenets of long-term investing and individually cost them thousands of dollars in life savings.