What is a Mutual Fund?
The birth of the mutual fund goes all the way back to 1774, when Dutch merchant Adriaan van Ketwich first pooled the resources from a number of small investors to form a trust.
This was during a time of extreme uncertainty in the markets, and the world’s first mutual fund allowed this pool of investors to diversify across a number of European countries and American colonies. Like most other early mutual funds, it was a closed-end fund – meaning that after the first 2,000 units were purchased, participation could only occur from buying or selling shares on the secondary market.
This first fund, called “Eendragt Maakt Magt” (“unity creates strength”), lasted for 50 years and set the stage for what is now a $40.4 trillion industry globally.
The Modern Mutual Fund
Today’s infographic comes to us from StocksToTrade and it showcases the basics around mutual funds, including their history, typical structures, why people invest in them, and how fees usually break down.
A mutual fund is defined as an investment vehicle made up of a pool of money collected from many investors. A professional manager for the fund invests this capital in stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate, and other assets based on the objectives stated in the fund’s prospectus.
Unlike the very first mutual fund created in the 18th century, the most common funds today are open-ended. These funds buy back or sell their shares at the end of each day based on the net asset value (NAV) of securities, and open-end funds accounted for $16.3 trillion of assets under management (AUM) in the U.S. at the end of 2016.
|Type of Mutual Fund||Number of Funds||AUM (U.S.)||% of U.S. Industry|
|Open-end funds||8,066||$16.3 trillion||86.0%|
|Closed-end funds||530||$0.3 trillion||1.0%|
|Unit investment trusts||5,103||$0.1 trillion||0.3%|
Closed-end funds and unit investment trusts (UITs) make up the rest of the mutual fund market, and of course the fast-growing ETF sector makes up a growing piece of the wider U.S. fund industry as well.
Why Do People Invest?
As the world’s investment industry grew and matured in the 20th century, a few different factors led to people investing more in mutual funds.
Over time, investors realized they wanted easy access to diverse portfolios, daily liquidity, as well as the world’s top portfolio managers – and mutual funds can offer all of these advantages to the average investor.
Here are the basic guidelines for choosing a mutual fund:
- Use a mutual fund cost calculator to compare how fees from various funds will impact returns
- Evaluate portfolio managers based on their results over time
- Comparing fund returns across a number of metrics can be important. Look at historical results, benchmark comparisons, and other funds in the peer group
- Use online services like MorningStar to do thorough research before investing
- Look at how well a fund is positioned for future successes
- Read the fund’s prospectus and shareholder reports for further information
Want to learn more on different types of assets and investments?
Visualizing the Rise of Investment Tech
Visualizing the Rise of Investment Tech
For the high resolution version of this infographic, click here.
Investors and wealth managers are always looking to capitalize on their investments—and the latest innovations are arming them with more efficient tools to get there.
Fintech solutions are increasingly being adopted among the digitally active population, as 64% of surveyed wealth managers consider digitization essential in 2019.
Today’s graphic from Raconteur highlights the benefits of investment technology, and touches on shifting sentiments in human vs. digital interactions. Where do investors and wealth managers see the next epoch of investment fintech heading?
Fantastic Features: Top Benefits
According to a TD Ameritrade survey of 1,000 investors, a whopping 90% consider getting tailored investing advice to be the most important feature of any tech tool. In second place, 52% place value in easy access to their data.
Here are the other benefits at top of mind for investors when it comes to investment tech:
- 45% seek the best possible returns
- 44% look for customized, quick, and simple analysis
- 39% are interested in customized portfolios
- 39% want the benefit of personalized budgets
- 38% desire regular suggestions for optimizing financial health
But how well are these applications being adopted in everyday investment scenarios?
The Fintech Boom by the Numbers
Investment apps such as RobinHood have drastically risen in popularity, but still lag behind more mainstream segments in the fintech space:
Fintech Categories Ranked by Adoption Rate, 2015 to 2019
|Category||2015 Adoption Rate||2017 Adoption Rate||2019 Adoption Rate|
|Money transfer and payments||18%||50%||75%|
|Savings and investments||17%||20%||34%|
|Budgeting and financial planning||8%||10%||29%|
Borrowing apps have the lowest global usage rates—only 27% of the digitally active global population—whereas nearly 75% have adopted money transfer and payment apps.
Human vs Machine: The Customer Experience
Do humans or machines have the edge in managing your investments?
The aforementioned survey by TD Ameritrade also asked investors which of the following are performed better by each group, with mixed results:
|👨 Humans perceived as better||🤖 Robots perceived as better|
|• Ability to chat about questions or investment concerns||• Info in one place that can be accessed at any time to inform best solutions
|• Investment experience||• Best returns|
|• Affordable investment solutions or advice||• Ability to optimize returns and minimize taxes
|• Regular suggestions on how to optimize financial life||• Quick, simple analysis tailored to unique financial situation
|• Personalized budget development||• Custom portfolio with regular updates|
When it comes to managing tasks such as calculations, updates, and portfolio optimization, the majority of investors consider a computer to be better suited to the tasks at hand. However, when they are discussing investment concerns, personalization, or financial advice, the majority of customers prefer a human opinion.
Interestingly, 81% of U.S. investors believe that investment technology could never replace the “human touch”, compared to 70% of European investors or 64% in Asia.
Wealth Managers are Going Digital
Over time, wealth managers have grown to embrace the digitization of their industry.
The proportion of surveyed high-level executives who see digitization as essential to the industry jumped from just 25% in 2016 to 64% in 2019.
In another recent survey about views on most impactful types of fintech apps, more than 68% of wealth managers agreed that robo-advisors are among the most important developments, with AI-based investing apps following closely behind at 45%.
Towards a More Personalized Future
At the end of the day, investors want better, more personalized advice at their disposal—and for that advice to generate more profitable returns. Along with their wealth managers, investors are increasingly interested in solutions that can simplify portfolio management.
Digitization and automation of manual processes have been a welcome change for many industry professionals. While investment technology is still in early stages, wealth managers can personalize investor experiences through the adoption of tech─and increase their chances of future success by maintaining a seamless customer experience.
The People’s Republic of China: 70 Years of Economic History
How did China go from agrarian economy to global superpower? This timeline covers the key events and policies that shaped the PRC over its 70-year history.
Chart: 70 Years of China’s Economic Growth
View a high-resolution version of this graphic here.
From agrarian economy to global superpower in half a century—China’s transformation has been an economic success story unlike any other.
Today, China is the world’s second largest economy, making up 16% of $86 trillion global GDP in nominal terms. If you adjust numbers for purchasing power parity (PPP), the Chinese economy has already been the world’s largest since 2014.
The upward trajectory over the last 70 years has been filled with watershed moments, strategic directives, and shocking tragedies — and all of this can be traced back to the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on October 1st, 1949.
How the PRC Came to Be
The Chinese Civil War (1927–1949) between the Republic of China (ROC) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) caused a fractal split in the nation’s leadership. The CPC emerged victorious, and mainland China was established as the PRC.
Communist leader Mao Zedong set out a few chief goals for the PRC: to overhaul land ownership, to reduce social inequality, and to restore the economy after decades of war. The first State Planning Commission and China’s first 5-year plan were introduced to achieve these goals.
Today’s timely chart looks back on seven decades of notable events and policies that helped shape the country China has become. The base data draws from a graphic by Bert Hofman, the World Bank’s Country Director for China and other Asia-Pacific regions.
The Mao Era: 1949–1977
Mao Zedong’s tenure as Chairman of the PRC triggered sweeping changes for the country.
1953–1957: First 5-Year Plan
The program’s aim was to boost China’s industrialization. Steel production grew four-fold in four years, from 1.3 million tonnes to 5.2 million tonnes. Agricultural output also rose, but it couldn’t keep pace with industrial production.
1958–1962: Great Leap Forward
The campaign emphasized China’s agrarian-to-industrial transformation, via a communal farming system. However, the plan failed—causing an economic breakdown and the deaths of tens of millions in the Great Chinese Famine.
1959–1962: Lushan Conference and 7,000 Cadres meeting
Top leaders in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) met to create detailed policy frameworks for the PRC’s future.
1966–1976: Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
Mao Zedong attempted to regain power and support after the failures of the Great Leap Forward. However, this was another plan that backfired, causing millions more deaths by violence and again crippling the Chinese economy.
1971: Joined the United Nations
The PRC replaced the ROC (Taiwan) as a permanent member of the United Nations. This addition also made it one of only five members of the UN Security Council—including the UK, the U.S., France, and Russia.
1972: President Nixon’s visit
After 25 years of radio silence, Richard Nixon was the first sitting U.S. President to step foot into the PRC. This helped re-establish diplomatic relations between the two nations.
1976–1977: Mao Zedong Death, and “Two Whatevers”
After Mao Zedong’s passing, the interim government promised to “resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made, and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave.”
1979: “One-Child Policy”
The government enacted an aggressive birth-planning program to control the size of the country’s population, which it viewed as growing too fast.
A Wave of Socio-Economic Reforms: 1980-1999
From 1980 onward, China worked on opening up its markets to the outside world, and closing the inequality gap.
1980–1984: Special Economic Zones (SEZs) established
Several cities were designated SEZs, and provided with measures such as tax incentives to attract foreign investment. Today, the economies of cities like Shenzhen have grown to rival the GDPs of entire countries.
1981: National Household Responsibility System implemented
In the Mao era, quotas were set on how many goods farmers could produce, shifting the responsibility of profits to local managers instead. This rapidly increased the standard of living, and the quota system spread from agriculture into other sectors.
1989: Coastal Development Strategy
Post-Mao leadership saw the coastal region as the potential “catalyst” for the entire country’s modernization.
1989–1991: Post-Tiananmen retrenchment
Early 1980s economic reforms had mixed results, and the growing anxiety eventually culminated in a series of protests. After tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in 1989, the government “retrenched” itself by initially attempting to roll back economic reforms and liberalization. The country’s annual growth plunged from 8.6% between 1979-1989 to 6.5% between 1989-1991.
1990–1991: Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges open
Combined, the Shanghai (SSE) and Shenzhen (SZSE) stock exchanges are worth over $8.5 trillion in total market capitalization today.
1994: Shandong Huaneng lists on the NYSE
The power company was the first PRC enterprise to list on the NYSE. This added a new N-shares group to the existing Chinese capital market options of A-shares, B-shares, and H-shares.
1994–1996: National “8-7” Poverty Reduction Plan
China successfully lifted over 400 million poor people out of poverty between 1981 and 2002 through this endeavor.
1996: “Grasp the Large, Let Go of the Small”
Efforts were made to downsize the state sector. Policy makers were urged to maintain control over state-owned enterprises to “grasp the large”. Meanwhile, the central government was encouraged to relinquish control over smaller SOEs, or “let go of the small”.
1997: Urban Dibao (低保)
China’s social safety net went through restructuring from 1993, and became a nationwide program after strong success in Shanghai.
1997-1999: Hong Kong and Macao handover, Asian Financial Crisis
China was largely unscathed by the regional financial crisis, thanks to the RMB (¥) currency’s non-convertibility. Meanwhile, the PRC regained sovereignty of Hong Kong and Macau back from the UK and Portugal, respectively.
1999: Western Development Strategy
The “Open Up the West” program built out 6 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, and 1 municipality—each becoming integral to the Chinese economy.
Turn of the Century: 2000-present
China’s entry to the World Trade Organization, and the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) program – which let foreign investors participate in the PRC’s stock exchanges – contributed to the country’s economic growth.
2006: Medium-term Plan for Scientific Development
The PRC State Council’s 15-year plan outlines that 2.5% or more of national GDP should be devoted to research and development by 2020.
2008-2009: Global Financial Crisis
The PRC experienced only a mild economic slowdown during the crisis. The country’s GDP growth in 2007 was a staggering 14.2%, but this dropped to 9.7% and 9.5% respectively in the two years following.
2013: Belt and Road Initiative
China’s ambitious plans to develop road, rail, and sea routes across 152 countries is scheduled for completion by 2049—in time for the PRC’s 100th anniversary. More than $900 billion is budgeted for these infrastructure projects.
2015: Made in China 2025
The PRC refuses to be the world’s “factory” any longer. In response, it will invest nearly $300 billion to boost its manufacturing capabilities in high-tech fields like pharmaceuticals, aerospace, and robotics.
Despite the recent ongoing trade dispute with the U.S. and an increasingly aging population, the Chinese growth story seems destined to continue on.
China Paving the Way?
The 70th anniversary of the PRC offers a moment to reflect on the country’s journey from humble beginnings to a powerhouse on the world stage.
Because of China’s economic success, more and more countries see China as an example to emulate, a model of development that could mean moving from rags to riches within a generation.
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