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Investment & Finance

Mutual Funds to ETFs: Key Trends & Investor Insights

By
Michael Gavin
Updated
January 17, 2024
5 minute read
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Table of Contents

While we tend to focus on front-page trends in the world of finance and investment, another significant trend is developing on the backend: the conversion of mutual funds into ETFs. This shift is becoming prevalent everywhere, as evidenced by data from Morningstar Direct. The data indicates that over 70 such conversions since 2021, including about three dozen in 2023…

The Conversion Wave: A Closer Look

The movement from mutual funds to ETFs gained momentum following a pivotal 2019 policy update from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This change offered fund managers more operational leeway, catalyzing a wave of conversions. Notably, the conversions have predominantly involved smaller, actively managed mutual funds, with assets typically under $100 million. Despite high-profile conversions by entities like Dimensional Funds and JPMorgan, the phenomenon remains relatively rare in the grand scheme of the financial market.

Benefits for Investors

The most notable advantage for investors in these conversions is improved tax efficiency. ETFs generally do not distribute capital gains, which can be a significant tax burden for investors in actively managed mutual funds. This aspect was particularly evident in 2023 when many fund managers realized gains to meet investor redemptions, leading to substantial projected payouts for some funds.

Expert Insights

Financial experts, including Daniel Sotiroff from Morningstar Research Services and Barry Glassman, a certified financial planner and founder of Glassman Wealth Services, emphasize the tax efficiency of ETFs as a key selling point. This feature is crucial for investors with mutual funds in brokerage accounts, where year-end capital gains distributions can trigger hefty tax bills.

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The Future of Conversions

Looking ahead, the trend of mutual fund to ETF conversions is expected to continue, primarily involving smaller, actively managed funds. These conversions are less likely to occur within 401(k) accounts, according to Sotiroff. This shift represents a broader trend towards more tax-efficient, investor-friendly vehicles in the financial market.

Takeaways

As the financial landscape evolves, the mutual fund to ETF conversion trend offers a glimpse into the future of investing. It's a development that savvy investors and financial advisors alike should monitor closely. 

Keeping up with all the developments can be a pain – especially when juggling investments as well. That’s when alphaAI comes in as the helping hand. We love working with ETFs, as they’ve become a cornerstone of our technology as well as our strategy. Want to learn more? Visit our site today.

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