Mutual Fund Ownership Slips – Slightly

October 16, 2002 ( - Fewer US households own mutual funds these days, including only about a third in retirement plans, according to a trade industry report.

As of May 2002 mutual fund ownership in retirement plans declined to 94.9 million from 95.8 million in May 2001, according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI).   This figure represents 32.8% of all US households, down from 33.4% a year earlier. These plans include 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans; SEP-IRAs, SAR-SEP IRAs; and SIMPLE IRAs

A slightly larger share of American households, 36.4%, owned mutual funds outside employer retirement plans, in accounts either purchased directly from fund companies or through professional financial advisers. These accounts include taxable accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, and variable annuities, according to the ICI.

Overall, about half (49.6%) of all US households and one out of every three Americans owned mutual funds as of May 2002.  

The Institute also reported that the number of households and individuals owning mutual funds as of May 2001 was revised to reflect the US Census Bureau’s most recent estimate of total US households. Household ownership of mutual funds as of May 2001 has been revised to 56.3 million and individual ownership has been revised to 95.8 million for the same period.

The Institute’s report is based on a survey of 3,000 randomly selected U.S. households conducted in May 2002.