Most Quarterly Statements Avoided Crisis

When third quarter statements started rolling in, the majority of mutual fund management firms did not acknowledge the effect of current market woes on investor assets.

An analysis by research firm Corporate Insight of 18 mutual fund management firms found that few firms changed much about their quarterly statements. However, three firms—Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, and MFS—changed their statement designs. Fidelity and T. Rowe changed the aesthetic presentation, and MFS introduced features such as rate of return figures, average costs per share calculations, and fund details for investments held by the client.

Overall, Corporate Insight says it was disappointed to find that only 22% of mutual fund management firms acknowledged the effect of current market woes on investor assets. Of the firms that did, most simply printed messages on their statement to reassure clients or promote certain products and services. Oppenheimer was the only firm to include a letter to shareholders encouraging clients to stay invested.

Corporate Insight also was disappointed to find only 28% of firms offer a rate of returns percentage; however, firms that do offer it usually include the figure for multiple time-spans. While RS Investments includes both quarterly and year-to-date returns, ING displays quarterly and year-to-date returns for each individual fund as well as an overall portfolio performance figure for each time frame. American Century and Janus each include year-to-date, 12-month, and since inception rates of return, according to the Corporate Insight report.

About three-fourths (72%) of firms did offer investment slips with their quarterly statement mailings. However, only 23% of these firms include a pre-paid envelope to make adding to their investments even easier for clients, as 54% include a standard unpaid envelope and 23% do not include an envelope at all. RS Investments and ING stand out as the only two firms that list their entire family of funds before the tear-away deposit slip, providing clients with a valuable reminder of the selection of funds available to them, according to Corporate Insight.