Mutual fund shareholders are savvier users of the Internet than they were just 12 months ago.
The number of mutual fund owners with Internet access almost doubled to 33% at the end of 1997 compared with year-end 1996, according to a survey of 750 mutual fund owners commissioned by American Century Investments, Kansas City, Mo.
Investors are using the Internet to access the Web sites of financial services providers more frequently than in 1996, 44% vs. 32%.
About one-third of those surveyed said they visited mutual fund Web sites in 1997, compared with 28% in the previous year.
Of those browsers who visited a mutual fund Web site in 1997, 56% said they checked share prices, up from 32% in 1996. More than a quarter of site visitors said they checked their mutual fund account balances. All this information and browsing has led to more confidence in electronic commerce: 11% bought or sold mutual fund shares online this year, compared with just 3% in 1996.
Defined contribution plan investors now have greater online access to information about their plan and its investment options. More than one-third of those surveyed have access to their plan information online, but only 43% of those actually used the online page in 1997.
Those respondents now without online access to 401(k) plan information said they would be "very likely" to access 401(k) plan information on the Net, if it became available.
Respondents said privacy on the Internet remained their biggest concern. Security and fear also were concerns of those using the Web; 74% said they were concerned about these issues.
However, 11% of respondents apparently think the fire wall technology erected by mutual fund site managers is good enough and have "no concerns" about making transactions on the Internet.