After a two-year downturn, mutual fund ownership has risen in the United States. But even as a new survey shows that investors are saving more money, experts warn those savings might not be enough to meet retirement goals.
The survey, conducted by The Investment Company Institute, shows that 48.1% of U.S. households own mutual funds, with a median balance in those funds of $48,000. Of the people surveyed, 72% said their top priority was retirement, with 84% saying they had money in a 401(k) or similar contribution plan.
While the ICIs survey did not analyze whether people were saving enough to meet their goals, financial planners told the Associated Press that even people who think they are saving a lot of money are not saving nearly enough for retirement.
"In general, people are not saving enough money," said Portland, Ore.-based financial planner Marilyn R. Bergen. "Unless youre talking about a portfolio of more than $3 million, I would say its pretty common that financial planners are the bearer of bad news to a great many people."
The good news, according to Sandy West, the ICIs director of market policy research, is that mutual fund holders are in it for the long term. On average, West says that mutual fund holders bought their first one more than 10 years ago, and do not get scared away by volatile markets.
"Shareholders exhibit a buy-and-hold strategy, even through a volatile market, from the bear market starting in March of 2000 through today, even after the scandals and so on," West told the AP.
Wests views are supported by other data in the survey, which shows that investors who understand mutual funds (the people who were surveyed) have a favorable view of the industry, even amid the recent scandals. However, while almost three quarters hold a favorable view of the industry, almost all were aware of the fund scandal, and 56% lowered their opinion at least a little because of the scandal.
In order of importance, most important to investors were: fund performance, personal experience with the firm, market events and professional advice.