Funds come and go, but what makes some last while others fail?

In their new paper, “Why Funds Die,” Morningstar looked at funds that have closed* in recent years to identify patterns or consistent characteristics.

They looked at U.S. mutual funds and ETFs that launched between 2005 and 2020 and noted several consistent characteristics.

While there was a significant rise in fund closures in 2008-2009 coinciding with the global financial crisis, examination of the fund closures overall in that 15-year period identified five consistent characteristics:

  1. Short lives
  2. Low assets under management
  3. High fees
  4. Poor performance
  5. Ties to certain fund providers

Identifying these characteristics can help investors determine which funds to avoid, and suggest to fund companies which characteristics they should keep any eye out for.

*Morningstar labeled funds as “closed” if they ceased to exist and were either liquidated or merged into another fund.