According to a new report from the Investment Company Institute (ICI), the average fees and expenses of stock and bond mutual funds have fallen by 50 percent since 1980. Fees were down again in 2006, too, with the average fee for stock funds falling 4 basis points (0.04 percent) to 1.07 percent, including loads. Bond fund expenses fell 0.05 percent to 0.83 percent last year, while money market fund fees saw a small decline as well (0.02 percent).
On one level, the top-line 50 percent decline in fund fees seems extraordinary. But ICI says that assets tied to mutual funds grew from around $50 billion in the early 1980s to $10.4 trillion in 2006, an increase of 20,000 percent. In that context, a 50 percent reduction in fees isn’t so terribly breathtaking.