U.S. investors have more than $11 trillion socked away in mutual funds. A handful of the largest mutual fund companies control a significant portion of that total. The Investment Company Institute reports that the five largest mutual fund companies hold 40 percent of the total assets in U.S. funds. If you choose to invest with one of these fund families you can benefit from large numbers of funds with easy transfers and consolidated reporting.
As one of the two largest mutual fund companies, Vanguard has been a market leader for new fund trends. As of the end of 2011, the company managed about $1.7 trillion in more than 170 funds, including exchange-traded funds and variable annuity accounts. The 140 or so Vanguard retail mutual funds held about $1 trillion in assets. The first Vanguard fund -- the Wellington Fund -- started in 1929. Vanguard, a leader in low-cost, no-load mutual fund investing, launched the first index mutual fund -- the Vanguard 500 Index Fund -- in 1976. Vanguard makes its home in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
Fidelity Investments uses a different path to run neck and neck with Vanguard concerning mutual fund assets. Fidelity's mutual fund assets total about $1 trillion spread out over 300-plus retail mutual funds. Fidelity started out with actively managed, no-load funds. To fuel continued growth, Fidelity has expanded its offerings include load funds, index funds and narrow sector-focused mutual funds. Fidelity's headquarters is in Boston, Massachusetts.
Capital Research and Management
Capital Research and Management runs the American Funds family of mutual funds. The approximately 40 American Funds mutual funds contain about $900 million worth or assets. Capital Research and Management is one of the oldest mutual fund companies, and its oldest fund -- Investment Company of America -- started out in the early 1930s. The American Funds are all load funds and are only distributed through financial advisers and brokers. Capital Research and Management is based in Los Angeles, California.
Franklin Resources manages the Franklin Templeton Investments family of mutual funds. The fund family includes about 120 mutual funds and $400 million of fund assets. The Franklin Funds were best known for bond funds until the company purchased the Templeton family of funds in 1992. It acquired Mutual Shares in 1996. Franklin Templeton funds are primarily load-type mutual funds sold by investment advisers and brokerage firms. Home base for Franklin Resources is San Mateo, California.
T Rowe Price
T Rowe Price focuses on the actively managed, no-load segment of the mutual fund business. The company manages about $350 billion of mutual fund assets in approximately 100 funds. T Rowe Price is the largest mutual fund company almost entirely focused on offering no-load mutual funds. The company was founded in 1937 and is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.