2018 Investment Company Fact Book
A Review of Trends and Activities in the Investment Company Industry

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Chapter One

Worldwide Regulated Open-End Funds

Investors across the globe have demonstrated strong demand for regulated open-end funds (referred to in this chapter as regulated funds). Total net assets of worldwide regulated funds have more than doubled in the past 10 years, surpassing $49 trillion at year-end 2017. This demand has been influenced by a number of long-term factors, as well as cyclical and macroeconomic factors. Fund providers have responded to the increasing interest in these funds, offering more than 114,000 regulated funds that provide a vast array of choices for investors. In many countries, markets for regulated funds are well-developed and highly competitive.

What Are Regulated Funds?

ICI, following standards set by the International Investment Funds Association (IIFA), defines regulated funds as collective investment pools that are substantively regulated, open-end investment funds.* Open-end funds generally are defined as those that issue new fund shares (or units) or redeem existing shares (or units) on demand. Such funds are typically regulated with respect to disclosure, the form of organization (for example, as either corporations or trusts), custody of fund assets, minimum capital, valuation of fund assets, and restrictions on fund investments, such as limits on leverage, types of eligible investments, and diversification of portfolio investments.

In the United States, regulated funds include mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). In Europe, regulated funds include Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS)—ETFs, money market funds, and other categories of similarly regulated funds—and alternative investment funds, commonly known as AIFs.

In many countries, regulated funds also may include institutional funds (funds that are restricted to being sold to a limited number of non-retail investors), funds that offer guarantees or protection of principal (those that offer a formal, legally binding guarantee of income or capital), and open-end real estate funds (funds that invest directly in real estate to a substantive degree).

* The primary data source for worldwide regulated funds is the IIFA. In 2017, IIFA collected data on worldwide regulated funds from 48 jurisdictions. For data on individual jurisdictions, see the data tables in section 8. For more details about the IIFA data collection, see www.ici.org/info/ww_q4_14_definitions.xls.

Two other highly regulated US investment products, unit investment trusts and closed-end funds, are discussed in chapter 2 and chapter 5, respectively.

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IIFA Presents Expanded Worldwide Regulated Open-End Fund Assets and Flows Report

Investor Demand for Worldwide Regulated Funds

Worldwide regulated funds have seen robust growth in assets in the past two decades across four broad regions consisting of the United States, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the world. Among other factors, rising demand for regulated funds has been driven by investors’ demand for professionally managed and well-diversified products offering access to capital markets and by the increasing depth and liquidity of global capital markets.

Total Net Assets of Worldwide Regulated Funds

Total net assets in worldwide regulated funds hit $49.3 trillion at year-end 2017, more than double their level in 2008 (Figure 1.1).* In 2017 alone, total net assets in these funds jumped nearly $9 trillion.

* In this chapter, unless otherwise noted, data for total net assets and net sales are denominated in US dollars.

Figure 1.1

Total Net Assets of Worldwide Regulated Open-End Funds Surpassed $49 Trillion in 2017

Trillions of US dollars by type of fund; year-end, 2008–2017

   

1 Mixed/other funds include balanced/mixed funds, guaranteed/protected funds, real estate funds, and other funds.

2 Data for total net assets by type of fund are not available in 2008 and 2009.

3 Data for Russia are for 2017:Q3.

Note: Regulated open-end funds include mutual funds, ETFs, and institutional funds. Components may not add to the total because of rounding.

Source: International Investment Funds Association

Forty-four percent, or $21.8 trillion, of total net assets in regulated funds were in equity funds, which invest primarily in publicly traded stocks (Figure 1.1). Mixed/other funds* made up another $11.2 trillion, while bond funds—which invest primarily in fixed-income securities—had total net assets of $10.4 trillion. Money market funds, which are generally defined throughout the world as regulated funds that are restricted to holding only short-term, high-quality money market instruments, had $5.9 trillion in total net assets, or 12 percent of worldwide regulated fund total net assets.

More than 40 percent of the increase in total net assets of regulated funds in 2017 reflected robust gains in stock markets around the world and a general appreciation of foreign currencies against the dollar. In 2017, US stocks returned nearly 19 percent (Figure 1.2). Stock markets elsewhere in the world also rose. For example, European stock markets returned 26 percent in 2017, while Asia-Pacific stock markets returned 32 percent. In addition, the euro appreciated 14 percent against the US dollar in 2017, boosting the value of euro‑denominated assets when measured in US dollars (see here). In the Asia-Pacific region, the Australian dollar appreciated 8 percent, the Chinese renminbi appreciated 6 percent, and the Japanese yen appreciated 4 percent against the US dollar in 2017.

* Mixed/other funds include balanced/mixed funds, guaranteed/protected funds, real estate funds, and other funds.

Figure 1.2

Stock Market Gains Were Strong in 2017

Percent, 2010–2017

   

1 The change in the exchange rate of euros is measured as the year-over-year percent change in the exchange rate of US dollars per euro.

2 The total return on US equities is measured as the year-over-year percent change in the Wilshire 5000 Total Return Index (float-adjusted).

3 The total return on European equities is measured as the year-over-year percent change in the MSCI Daily Total Return Gross Europe Index (expressed in US dollars).

4 The total return on Asia-Pacific equities is measured as the year-over-year percent change in the MSCI Daily Total Return Gross AC Asia-Pacific Index (expressed in US dollars).

Sources: Investment Company Institute, Bloomberg, and MSCI

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Worldwide Regulated Open-End Fund Assets and Flows

How Exchange Rates Can Influence Measurement of Total Net Assets Held by Worldwide Regulated Funds

For worldwide regulated funds holding assets denominated in currencies other than US dollars, fluctuations in US dollar exchange rates can significantly affect the value of these assets when they are expressed or measured in US dollars. For example, when foreign currencies appreciate against the dollar (or, equivalently, the US dollar depreciates against foreign currencies), it will have a positive impact on the value of any assets not denominated in US dollars when those assets are measured in US dollars. Figure 1.3 illustrates this effect using two hypothetical scenarios.

Figure 1.3

Impact of Changes in the Exchange Rate on the US Dollar Value of a European Stock

Scenario 1: No change in exchange rate between euros and US dollars

 Year 1Year 2Percent change

1. Market value of European stock expressed in euros

€100 €110 10%

2. Exchange rate of euros (US dollars per euro)

1.00 1.00 0%

3. Market value of European stock expressed in US dollars

$100 $110 10%

Scenario 2: Market value if euro appreciates (US dollar depreciates)

 Year 1Year 2Percent change

4. Market value of European stock expressed in euros

€100 €110 10%

5. Exchange rate of euros (US dollars per euro)

1.00 1.20 20%

6. Market value of European stock expressed in US dollars

$100 $132 32%

In the first scenario, the market value of a European stock, measured in euros, rises from €100 in year 1 to €110 in year 2, an increase of 10 percent. The exchange rate between US dollars and euros, in this scenario, is unchanged at 1.00 in both years. In other words, one euro is worth one US dollar in both years. To convert the euro-denominated value of the European stock into US dollars, multiply by the exchange value of the euro (US dollar price per euro). Because this is 1.00 in both years, the value of the European stock expressed in US dollars is exactly the same as when expressed in euros: $100 in year 1 and $110 in year 2. When the US dollar exchange rate with another country is unchanged between two years, any gain or loss in assets denominated in that country’s currency translates into an identical percentage gain or loss when the value of those assets is expressed in US dollars.

Exchange rates, however, rarely remain unchanged. The second scenario illustrates what happens when a European stock experiences the same 10 percent gain as in the first scenario (€100 in year 1 to €110 in year 2), but at the same time, the euro appreciates 20 percent against the US dollar. As in the first scenario, in year 1 the market value of European stock expressed in US dollars is $100. In year 2, however, one euro is now worth 1.20 US dollars. To find the US dollar value of the European stock in year 2, multiply €110 by 1.20 (US dollars per euro) to get $132. The US dollar return on the European stock is now 32 percent—higher than in the first scenario because it accounts for both the stock price gain in euros and the appreciation of the euro relative to the US dollar.

Worldwide Net Sales of Regulated Long-Term Funds

In the past decade, total net assets in worldwide regulated long-term (equity, bond, and mixed/other) funds also were boosted by strong investor demand for new fund shares, with net sales totaling $11.4 trillion (Figure 1.4). In 2017 alone, investors across the globe purchased $2.1 trillion in additional shares of regulated long-term funds. Forty-two percent of those net sales ($879 billion) went to bond funds in 2017. Much of these sales were attributable to the United States, where bond funds posted exceptionally strong inflows (see chapter 3 and chapter 4). With stock prices rising rapidly around the world, some fund investors may have felt it appropriate to add to their bond fund holdings to keep their allocations of stocks and bonds in line with their long-term objectives.

Figure 1.4

Worldwide Net Sales of Regulated Open-End Long-Term Funds Exceeded $2 Trillion in 2017

Billions of US dollars by type of fund; annual, 2008–2017 1

   

1 Data for Ireland are not available in 2008 and 2009; are included in mixed/other in 2010; and are distributed by type of fund from 2011 to 2017.

2 Mixed/other funds include balanced/mixed funds, guaranteed/protected funds, real estate funds, and other funds.

3 Data for Russia are through 2017:Q3.

Note: Regulated open-end funds include mutual funds, ETFs, and institutional funds. Long-term funds include equity funds, mixed/other funds, and bond funds, but exclude money market funds. Components may not add to the total because of rounding.

Source: International Investment Funds Association

Worldwide demand for regulated long-term funds has been fairly robust over most of the past decade. With the exception of 2008—the worst year of the global financial crisis—net sales of regulated long-term funds were positive. Moreover, in eight of the past 10 years (2008 and 2011 being the exceptions), each long-term fund type recorded positive net sales. Since 2008, net sales of bond funds and mixed/other funds have been particularly strong, far outpacing net sales of equity funds. Although a number of factors likely affected net flows, two stand out as the most applicable.

First, some investors, such as those nearing retirement, may have reassessed their willingness to accept above-average or substantial investment risk. The global population is aging—in 2017, around 23 percent of the world’s population was individuals 50 and older, up from nearly 20 percent in 2007.* Against this backdrop, investors may have elected to weight their purchases toward regulated funds with less-variable returns. Returns on bonds tend to be less variable than those on stocks. Because of this, returns on bond funds, and some mixed/other funds that hold substantial proportions of their total net assets in bonds, tend to be less variable than those of equity funds.

* United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. 2017. “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision” (June). Available at https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/.

Second, investor demand may have responded to favorable returns on bonds. In many countries, long-term interest rates declined during and after the financial crisis. To shore up their economies, major central banks cut short-term interest rates and held them at very low levels for much of the past decade. In addition, some major central banks, notably the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, undertook “quantitative easing” policies, which added to the downward pressure on long-term interest rates. When interest rates fall, bond prices rise, boosting returns on bond funds and other funds that have substantial holdings of bonds, such as some mixed/other funds.

Worldwide Net Sales of Money Market Funds

Worldwide net sales of money market funds totaled $598 billion in 2017, a sharp increase from the $82 billion of net sales in 2016 (Figure 1.5).

Figure 1.5

Worldwide Net Sales of Money Market Funds

Billions of US dollars by region; annual, 2008–2017

   

1 Data for Ireland are not available in 2008 and 2009.

2 Data for Russia are through 2017:Q3.

Note: Components may not add to the total because of rounding.

Source: International Investment Funds Association

The pattern of net sales over 2016 and 2017 primarily owed to developments in the Asia-Pacific region, where money market funds had net sales of $404 billion in 2017, after experiencing net outflows of $14 billion in the previous year. Investor demand for Chinese money market funds strongly influenced net sales of money market funds in the Asia-Pacific region. Nearly 80 percent of Asia-Pacific’s total net assets in money market funds were held in funds domiciled in China at year-end 2017.

Investor demand for money market funds in the Asia-Pacific region appears to be related to changes in the total return on the short-term money market instruments held by these funds (Figure 1.6). Investors pulled back from Asia-Pacific money market funds as the total return on Chinese money market instruments declined from 4.3 percent in 2015 to 2.6 percent in 2016. As the total return on these money market instruments rose throughout 2017, investor demand for Asia-Pacific money market funds increased.

Figure 1.6

Net Sales of Money Market Funds in the Asia-Pacific Region Are Related to Chinese Money Market Instrument Returns

Annual, 2008–2017

   

* The total return on Chinese money market instruments is the year-over-year percent change in the ChinaBond Money Market
Fund Investable Bond Index. This index includes some short-term bonds.

Sources: International Investment Funds Association, Bloomberg, and China Central Depository and Clearing Corporation Limited

In Europe, money market funds saw net sales of $72 billion in 2017, the third straight year of positive net sales (Figure 1.5). Europe, like the United States, has adopted reforms intended to increase the resilience of money market funds to financial shocks. US reforms, which were implemented in October 2016, had significant effects on the composition of net new cash flow to US money market funds in 2016. The influence, if any, of Europe’s impending regulatory changes on money market flows in that region is uncertain. Although European Union (EU) reforms for money market funds were adopted in 2017, existing funds are required to be in full compliance by January 2019.

In the United States, net sales of money market funds were $118 billion in 2017, the largest year of positive net sales since 2008 (Figure 1.5). Over the past decade, US money market funds have faced headwinds because of regulatory reforms and near-zero US short-term interest rates. With short-term interest rates rising in the United States in 2017, US money market funds became more attractive relative to other cash management investments.

Number of Worldwide Regulated Funds

At year-end 2017, fund providers across the globe offered more than 114,000 regulated funds for sale, a 36 percent increase since 2008 (Figure 1.1). Nearly half (48 percent) of these funds in 2017 were domiciled in Europe (Figure 1.7). The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 26 percent of regulated funds, the United States for 9 percent, and the rest of the world for 17 percent. About half (45 percent) of regulated funds were mixed/other funds. Equity funds accounted for 34 percent of regulated funds, and bond funds were 18 percent. Money market funds accounted for 2 percent of regulated funds.

Figure 1.7

Number of Worldwide Regulated Open-End Funds

Percentage of funds by region or type of fund, year-end 2017 1

   

1 Data for Russia are for 2017:Q3.

2 Mixed/other funds include balanced/mixed funds, guaranteed/protected funds, real estate funds, and other funds.

Note: Regulated open-end funds include mutual funds, ETFs, and institutional funds. Components may not add to 100 percent because of rounding.

Source: International Investment Funds Association

Total Net Assets and Net Sales of Worldwide Regulated Funds by Region

The total net assets of, and net sales to, regulated funds vary widely by geographic region. These differences reflect preferences for specific asset classes, differences in risk tolerances, relative development of capital markets, demographics, macroeconomic developments, and other factors.

Total Net Assets of Worldwide Regulated Funds by Region

The United States and Europe have the world’s largest regulated fund markets. In 2017, the United States maintained its position as the world’s largest fund market, with $22.1 trillion (45 percent) of the world’s $49.3 trillion in regulated fund total net assets (Figure 1.8). Funds domiciled in Europe held $17.7 trillion, or 36 percent of the worldwide total. The Asia-Pacific region had $6.5 trillion in total net assets, and $2.9 trillion were in funds domiciled in the rest of the world.

Figure 1.8

Total Net Assets of Worldwide Regulated Open-End Funds

Trillions of US dollars by region; year-end, 2008–2017

   

* Data for Russia are for 2017:Q3.

Note: Regulated open-end funds include mutual funds, ETFs, and institutional funds. Components may not add to the total because of rounding.

Source: International Investment Funds Association

United States. The relatively large size of the US market stems from a number of factors. One factor is the longevity of US-regulated funds, which have been available in the United States for around 100 years. For example, mutual funds have been available to US investors since the 1920s. Another factor is the strong regulatory framework for securities markets and regulated funds in the United States that was established in the wake of the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression—most notably, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Investment Company Act of 1940. Renewed investor confidence in securities markets and regulated funds led to steady growth in US regulated funds’ assets.

In recent decades, US demand has been fueled by the availability of regulated funds as investment options in tax-advantaged accounts (for example, 401(k) plans), and by a wide and growing availability of types of funds that help investors meet their investment goals (for example, ETFs and target date funds). Also, assets of regulated funds have been boosted by stock market appreciation and by reinvestment of dividends back into funds.

Europe. Europe’s regulated fund market has grown briskly over the past few decades. One important factor helping to drive this growth is the UCITS regulatory framework, which includes passporting—the ability for funds domiciled in one EU country to be offered for sale and purchased by investors in another EU country. Additionally, many countries outside of Europe, such as in the Asia-Pacific region, allow UCITS to be offered for sale to their citizens. The pooling of assets from investors in a range of countries allows for economies of scale that help to lower the costs of funds to individual investors. The UCITS framework further promotes asset pooling across countries by allowing an individual fund to offer share classes that are denominated in a range of different currencies (for example, euros, US dollars, British pounds sterling) and adaptable to tax structures that differ across jurisdictions.

Asia-Pacific. Although the Asia-Pacific region had only 13 percent ($6.5 trillion out of $49.3 trillion) of the worldwide total net assets of regulated funds, the market has been growing rapidly (Figure 1.8). Moreover, given the size of the population in the Asia-Pacific region, and the rapidly increasing economic development and wealth in many countries, there is potential for growth in the region’s regulated fund market.

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Worldwide Net Sales of Regulated Long-Term Funds by Region

Worldwide net sales of regulated long-term funds worldwide nearly doubled in 2017, compared with 2016, largely on the strength of flows in Europe and the United States (Figure 1.9). Net sales of regulated long-term funds (equity, bond, and mixed/other funds) in Europe more than doubled to $941 billion in 2017 from $361 billion in 2016. This increase in investor demand likely reflected strengthening economic growth in that region, which was accompanied by a robust rebound in European stock markets. Net sales of equity funds domiciled in Europe surged from $4 billion in 2016 to $201 billion in 2017. Demand for bond and mixed/other funds also strengthened as interest rates remained fairly stable and monetary policy remained accommodative in Europe. Net sales of regulated long-term funds in the United States increased to $784 billion in 2017, from $309 billion in 2016. This reflected a sharp increase in demand for US domiciled funds that invest outside the United States, and strong sales of bond mutual funds and bond ETFs (see chapter 3 and chapter 4).

Figure 1.9

Worldwide Net Sales of Regulated Open-End Long-Term Funds

Billions of US dollars by region; annual, 2008–2017

   

1 Data for Ireland are not available in 2008 and 2009.

2 Data for Russia are through 2017:Q3.

Note: Regulated open-end funds include mutual funds, ETFs, and institutional funds. Long-term funds include equity funds, mixed/other funds (balanced/mixed, guaranteed/protected, real estate, and other funds), and bond funds, but exclude money market funds. Components may not add to the total because of rounding.

Source: International Investment Funds Association

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Trends in the European Investment Fund Industry

Factors Influencing Demand for Worldwide Regulated Funds

Research indicates that the size of the regulated fund market in a particular country or region depends on a broad range of factors, including:

  • access to well-developed capital markets,
  • household demand for well-diversified investments,
  • strong and appropriate regulation of funds and financial markets,
  • availability of distribution structures that facilitate access to regulated funds,
  • regulated fund returns and costs relative to other available investment products,
  • demographics, and
  • high or improving levels of economic development.

Well-Developed Capital Markets

Demand for regulated funds is positively associated with the level of capital market development in a country. Residents of countries with more highly developed capital markets, such as the United States and European Union, tend to hold a larger share of their household financial wealth in regulated funds.

Figure 1.10 illustrates the relationship between capital market development and size of the regulated fund market in a given country. The horizontal axis provides a measure of a country’s capital market development (a country’s stock market capitalization relative to its gross domestic product [GDP]). The vertical axis plots a measure of the size of the regulated fund market in a given country, measured by the total net assets in regulated long-term funds relative to GDP.

Figure 1.10

Countries with More-Developed Stock Markets Tend to Have More-Developed Fund Industries

Percent, 2016

   

* Regulated open-end funds include mutual funds, ETFs, and institutional funds. Long-term funds include equity funds, mixed/other funds (balanced/mixed, guaranteed/protected, real estate, and other funds), and bond funds, but exclude money market funds.

Source: Investment Company Institute tabulations of data from the International Investment Funds Association, World Bank, and World Federation of Exchanges

Generally speaking, as stock market capitalization rises relative to GDP, so do total net assets in regulated funds. Countries with more-developed capital markets—such as the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Switzerland—tend to have a higher ratio of regulated long-term fund assets to GDP. For example, the Netherlands’ stock market capitalization slightly exceeds its GDP (110 percent, on the horizontal axis), indicating a highly developed capital market, while total net assets in regulated long-term funds are about equal to its GDP (at 99 percent on the vertical axis), indicating a more‑developed fund industry. In contrast, countries with less-developed capital markets (lower ratios of stock market capitalization to GDP), such as Poland, Russia, and China tend to have fewer total net assets in regulated long-term funds relative to GDP.

Other Factors Influencing Demand

Other factors also influence the demand for regulated funds, and therefore, the size of the regulated fund market. For example, Japan’s stock market capitalization is 100 percent of GDP, not much lower than the Netherlands (Figure 1.10). Nevertheless, Japan has substantially less total net assets in regulated long-term funds as a proportion of its GDP (28 percent). This outcome reflects Japanese households’ tendency to save in bank deposits rather than invest in regulated funds.

In some countries, especially those where banks have historically dominated the financial landscape, households have traditionally held more of their financial assets in bank products, and less in regulated funds (Figure 1.11). Households in Japan, China, and Russia hold more than half of their financial assets in bank deposits and currency and very little in regulated funds. In the United States, banks compete with capital market instruments for households’ financial assets; as a result, households hold a relatively small fraction of their assets in bank deposits (13 percent) compared with 23 percent in regulated funds. Europe is an intermediate case among industrialized nations, with 30 percent of households’ financial wealth in bank deposits and 8 percent in regulated funds. Differences in public policy and tax regimes across countries also likely have contributed to the dispersion of deposits and regulated funds held by households.

Figure 1.11

US Households Have More of Their Wealth in Regulated Funds; Chinese
Households Have a Lower Share

Percentage of households’ financial wealth,1 20172

   

1 Households’ financial wealth includes households and nonprofit institutions serving households; data for China exclude nonprofit institutions serving households.

2 Data for the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan are as of 2017:Q4; data for the European Union and Russia are as of 2017:Q3; data for China are estimated as of 2014:Q4.

3 For the United States, Japan, and Russia, regulated funds include total net assets held by mutual funds and ETFs. For the European Union, Republic of Korea, and China, regulated funds include investment fund shares as defined by their respective systems of national accounts.

Source: Investment Company Institute tabulations of data from the International Investment Funds Association, Federal Reserve Board, Eurostat, Bank of Korea, Bank of Japan, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Central Bank of the Russian Federation

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Regulated Funds, Emerging Markets, and Financial Stability

Size of Worldwide Regulated Funds in Global Capital Markets

Regulated funds are a growing source of capital for world financial markets, helping to finance businesses, governments, and household activities. As of 2017, worldwide capital markets, as measured by the value of equity and debt securities outstanding, totaled $186.3 trillion (Figure 1.12). Total net assets of regulated long-term funds constituted 23 percent ($43.4 trillion) of the $186.3 trillion in worldwide capital markets.

The share of worldwide capital markets held by regulated long-term funds has grown over the past seven years. In 2010, worldwide regulated long-term funds accounted for 16 percent of worldwide capital markets, rising to 23 percent in 2017. Despite this increase, regulated long-term funds still accounted for a relatively small share of worldwide capital markets. The remaining 77 percent of worldwide capital markets are held by a wide range of investors, such as central banks, sovereign wealth funds, defined benefit pension plans, banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, broker-dealers, and households’ direct holdings of stocks and bonds.

Figure 1.12

Worldwide Regulated Open-End Long-Term Fund Share of Worldwide Equity and Debt Markets

Trillions of US dollars; year-end, 2010–2017

   

* Data for worldwide debt markets are as of September 30, 2017.

Note: Regulated open-end funds include mutual funds, ETFs, and institutional funds. Long-term funds include equity funds, mixed/other funds (balanced/mixed, guaranteed/protected, real estate, and other funds), and bond funds, but exclude money market funds. Components may not add to the total because of rounding.

Source: Investment Company Institute tabulations of data from the International Investment Funds Association, World Federation of Exchanges, and Bank for International Settlements