So remember when Josh Brown announced the death of the mutual fund several months ago? Well, shots have definitely been fired:
Well wouldn’t you know it, the Pimco Total Return ETF ($BOND) is 300 basis points ahead of the original Pimco Total Return mutual fund (aka the World’s Largest Fund)…
When I predicted the Death of Mutual Funds in Fortune Magazine, this is an angle I’d never even considered – “What if the ETF versions of popular funds have better performance?” – I was more hung up on the structures themselves.
See, this is exactly what we had in mind. Maybe it’s because we know all too well on how much damage mutual fund fees can do to overall fund performance, and with ETFs a cheaper version… well, it only makes sense in our minds that we see this taking place. We don’t know for sure whether that’s what’s going on here, but we wouldn’t be surprised if performance-eating fees were the culprits. The good thing about this kind of evolution is the bottom line for the investors. If ETFs are going to be cheaper and grant similar exposure, this benefits them.
But before we assume that all mutual funds are about to go down in a fiery ball of flames, it’s important to remember that not all strategies can be replicated in ETF format (though hurdles such as these have not stopped financial innovation in the past). In addition, there’s always a good chance that there are risks lurking under the surface that we haven’t fully explored yet. In other words, no time of death call yet for the mutual fund world, but we may be on our way to life support.
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