Jeffrey DeMaso, CFA, editor of Independent Vanguard Adviser, Brooklyn, New York. He previously was director of research for Adviser Investments, a wealth-management firm with more than $6 billion in assets. IndependentVanguardAdviser.com
Would you stick with a mutual fund through its ups and downs if it rewarded your loyalty? The typical investor owns a mutual fund for only about four years before dumping it. Fidelity is trying to alter that behavior with a series of actively managed funds launched this past April, six of which lower their annual fees the longer you own them.
The funds, ranging from Fidelity Disruptive Technology (FTEKX) to Fidelity Disruptive Medicine (FMEDX) to Fidelity Water Sustainability (FLOWX), charge an expense ratio of 1% in the first year you invest. The cost automatically drops to 0.75% in Year Two…0.5% in Year Three and beyond. Example: Fees at the Disruptive Technology fund, which owns about 40 large-cap stocks and is run by Fidelity veteran fund managers, compare favorably to other top-rated large-cap tech funds with more static fees including BlackRock Technology Opportunities (BGSCX), 1.93% expense ratio…and Janus Henderson Global Technology and Innovation (JAGTX), 0.93%.
Other fund families have yet to follow Fidelity’s lead, perhaps because loyalty pricing isn’t a strong motivation for many investors to stick around in highly focused, volatile niche funds. Jittery investors who want to own niche funds would be better served using ultra-cheap exchange-traded funds with fewer ups and downs, such as the Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT). It invests in about 340 tech stocks and charges just 0.10% annually. But if you are a patient investor who doesn’t panic when the market is dropping and you have a time horizon of five years or more, the new Fidelity funds are an attractive option.