Who’s Your Average Mutual Fund Investor? [INFOGRAPHIC]

How old is the typical mutual fund investor. Did she go to college? Is she a “she” or far more likely to be a “he?” How many mutual fund investors are married or living with a partner?

How many of them have confidence in you and the funds you recommend or create marketing campaigns for?

Do those type of questions immediately trigger an image in your mind’s eye of your target mutual fund investor, an image that’s been finely constructed following rigorous research, market analysis and client profiling — or do they leave you fumbling for guestimates worthy of a mutual fund insider?

Thanks to Investment Company Institute (ICI), who has kindly given us permission to turn their Mutual Fund Factbook data into this snapshot of the average mutual fund investor, we can provide at least a few of the answers.

[For a look at investment trends and cash flow, see our previous U.S. mutual fund trends infographic based on ICI data.]

Positive sentiment drops from 83% to 65% in 12 years

Of the 92.4 million investors who own a mutual fund or two, the majority feel pretty assured that the funds they’re invested in can help them meet their investment goals. In 2012, 80% felt very or somewhat confident. That’s a bounce back from the 2009 dip that saw confidence levels fall to 72% but still well short of the 86% typically seen pre-financial crisis.

When it comes to overall sentiment ratings, the proportion of investors rating the mutual fund industry favorably has fallen from 83% to 65% over the past 12 years.
Naturally, these sentiments ebb and flow in conjunction with the stock market’s overall performance. But as asset managers and private banks try to compete or differentiate on non-performance-related dimensions, finding a way to boost sentiment even during market stagnation will become important.

Are you old enough for a mutual fund?

As you might have expected, young people have more pressing needs on their mind than which mutual fund to choose. Similarly, the very old have often traded out of funds.

While the fact that 44% of U.S. households own a mutual fund suggests a broad appeal, participation actually varies significantly with age. ICI data shows that age has an invert U-shaped effect on mutual fund ownership, being lowest for the young and the older groups, but peaking in the middle of life (35–65 years old). More than half of all households in this age group own mutual funds.

The world’s getting older… and so are mutual fund investors

Like the U.S. population in general, mutual fund owners are getting older.
[Tweet “Investors age 55+ made up 26% of all US mutual fund owners in 1994, but this grew to 39% by 2012.”]

But how important are facts and statistics anyway?

Marketing — fund marketing included — has always been grounded in the theory that anyone involved in selling and marketing products should first take some time to understand their target audience.

These days the stakes are much, much higher and they are about to rocket higher still. Google’s Hummingbird update, which told the world that valuable and shareable content would now rule, has already prompted plenty of speculation around the end of keyword marketing and SEO.

As semantic search (the process by which a search engine works out what you really want to read rather than delivering exactly what you tapped into the search box) grows in importance, understanding clients will become far more important than ever before.
How can you hope to create content that investors want to read and share if you don’t know what they like and dislike, where they go to consume news online, or what topics are pressing on their minds?

Gathering actionable insight will become even more critical for marketing teams across all sectors of the wealth management and mutual fund industry. Ultimately, that insight will need to be highly complex and granular in its detail. For now, use our infographic as your cheat sheet to understand the average mutual fund investor. Ask how many fund marketers or colleagues know these facts and how many need to go back to school to get closer to clients!

Get more stats on U.S. mutual fund shareholder’s income, risk tolerance, use of the Internet, and much more at www.icifactbook.org/fb_ch6.html.

Who’s Your Average Mutual Fund Investor? [INFOGRAPHIC] 1

And Finally…