But achieving financial security is not easy. A 2015 Pew Research Poll suggests that more than half of Americans are not financially prepared for the unexpected, or otherwise spend more than they make each month. 8 of 10 Americans worry about their lack of savings. At the same time, most Americans recognize that regularly saving and investing a portion of their income is the foundation of financial security. While savings accounts are a critical component in an investment plan with their low risk and high liquidity, most investors need the higher potential returns of equity ownership.
The Evolution of Equity Investment Vehicles Portfolios of Individual Stocks
After World War II, Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane (the predecessor to Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc.) initiated a campaign to “bring Wall Street to Main Street” that included pamphlets and seminars teaching the public how to invest in the common stocks of America’s corporations. By 1947, the company was responsible for 10% of the transactions on the New York Stock Exchange; three years later, it had become the largest brokerage firm in the world. Wall Street firms encouraged investors to own stocks of individual companies, promoting investment clubs and Monthly Investment Plans. The public eagerly responded to the new investment, driving annual volume on the NYSE from 377.6 million shares in 1945 to over a billion shares by 1961, according to NYSE Market Data.
Despite the success, many potential investors had limited capital or lacked the time or expertise to successfully analyze or monitor the stock market. These deficiencies led to a demand for professionally managed portfolios that could be shared by hundreds of investors for reduced costs, investment risk, and volatility: the mutual fund.
Professionally-Managed Portfolios – Mutual Funds
In 1928, the Wellington Fund – the first mutual fund to include stocks and bonds – appeared. Within a year, there were 19 open-end funds and