Just as theorized by a previously-mentioned academic paper about target funds, a new Bloomberg article talks about how some mutual fund providers like PIMCO and Invesco are now adding things like commodities futures, options, and currency swaps into these all-in-one funds. Will all these bells and whistles be worth the added cost? I doubt it, but differentiation is important in marketing. The article also included some interesting stats about these funds:
Investments in the [target date retirement] funds have swelled more than 380 percent since 2005 to about $343 billion as of September, according to the Investment Company Institute, a Washington- based trade group for the mutual-fund industry. [...]
The majority, or 53 percent, of plan sponsors that automatically enroll participants in 401(k)s use target-date funds as the default investment, according to a 2011 report by the Plan Sponsor Council of America, a Chicago-based trade group.
There are more than 40 target-date mutual fund families employers may choose from and some sellers also offer them in collective trusts or customized versions, said Jeremy Stempien, director of investments for the retirement solutions group at Morningstar Investment Management. “We can see tremendous discrepancy, tremendous differences among asset managers,” said Harvard’s Pozen, who’s also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t think most people understand what they’re getting.”
Fidelity, Vanguard and T. Rowe Price Group Inc. controlled about 75 percent of the target-date assets in 2011, according to Morningstar. The average fee for a target-date mutual fund last year was about 1.1 percent, according to Morningstar, which included all share classes and retirement years such as the 2030 or 2040 funds.
Fees for the funds at Pimco and Invesco averaged about 1.2 percent. Vanguard, which mainly uses three broad-market index funds in its series, had the lowest expenses at about 19 basis points, or 84 percent less than the more expensive funds. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.
Vanguard reported yesterday that in 2011 about 64 percent of new enrollees in 401(k) plans administered by the company invested solely in a target-date fund. The Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based firm managed about $100 billion in the funds as of Feb. 29, according to spokeswoman Linda Wolohan.
I don’t invest in any of these funds, but I keep track of them because they are where the industry is heading. I have recommended Vanguard Target Retirement 20XX funds to family members, but have adjusted the “date” to match their own situations.