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Where did they all go

So I tend to look at the Buy-Sell-Why thread often and just today focused on the Large Cap Growth category. Scrolling down to the Growth of $10K graph I saw that over a 10-yr time span the number of funds so categorized by M* dropped by nearly 66% if I'm reading or interpreting the data correctly. Is this true? Is it because of the explosion in ETF's or other?

From the FSCVX data page (from 2014 - 2024):
# of Invest. in Cat. 1,710- 1,681- 1,463- 1,363- 1,405- 1,360- 1,289- 1,237- 1,235- 1,200- 603


  • edited July 9
    M* was going to make changes to its 9-box styles in August without much fanfare. But this is only early-July. I will check if M* jumped the gun.

    Edit/Add. I couldn't find anything. But I see that total market VTI has been 71% LC, 20% MC, 8% SC in July. If someone is tracking M* style boxes, please post if this is significantly different from that in June or earlier.
  • edited July 10
    It seems that number of funds have gone down significantly for all 9-box categories.


    1,200 1,430 1,217
    553 420 397
    597 615 489
    2024/YTD/Daily View

    603 705 610
    277 201 211
    298 298 251
    These correspond to:

  • I'm not familiar with what drives those fund counts but feel reasonably confident saying it doesn't have anything to do with style box classification methodology as you see similar drops in fund counts for all columns/rows, it appears. For instance, I pulled up Vanguard Value Index, Vanguard Total Stock, and Vanguard Small Cap Index and in each case the fund count dropped in current year. Again, don't know why (I've never paid attention to it tbh). I can ask around if it would be helpful.

    Jeff Ptak
    Morningstar Research Services
  • @jptak, I was posting those details just as you were posting.
  • @jptak - Thanks for the offer. I don't need the info to solve any problem. I was merely curious. However, if you do come up with an answer I'd like to hear it.

    I also checked on the Number of Mutual Funds and there doesn't appear to be any appreciable decline to account for what I'm seeing.
  • edited July 10
    Is anyone surprised?

    Tip of the cap to @Mark for catching this, and bringing it up.

    Good to know it's cleared up.
  • For what it's worth, I just reached out to the data folks at Morningstar for confirmation of what's happening. I'll share what, if anything, I hear back. Cheers..
  • The number of "funds" in 2023 looks more like share classes than actual funds.

    The nine style boxes of broad based domestic equity funds add up to 6,918. ICI reports a total of 8.578 domestic equity share classes (including all domestic categories but excluding funds of funds), but only 2,880 unique domestic equity funds. In fact, in total ICI reports just 7,222 funds including equity, bond, hybrid, and money market funds.

    The 2024 figure (totaling 3,454) still exceeds the ICI fund figure (YE 2023) of 2,880, but at least it's in the right ballpark.

    2024 ICI Investment Company Fact Book - list of tables
    ICI table of number of funds by type and year
    ICI table of number of share classes by type and year

    It would have been so much easier to examine M* figures with its premium fund screener. That had a "distinct funds only" filter. But alas, M* now offers only a crude tool on its "Investor" site. FWIW, that screener reports a total of 6,033 domestic "funds" in the nine style boxes. Well less than the 6,918 total of the nine boxes.

    This suggests that M* is including in its "number of funds" counts some esoteric classes or types of funds that neither ICI nor M* itself (in its screeners) is counting. That in turn lends credibility to the idea that M* switched from share classes to funds in its reporting of total funds in category.

    From the M* glossary (UK version):
    Number of Funds in Category

    The number of funds classified in the same category as this fund.

  • I took a closer look and appears this is an issue only w/re to the 'daily' view. For instance, if you go down to the 'trailing' performance figures and toggle to 'month-end' tab you'll find the counts are about where they were as of year-end last year. If I had to guess (all I can do), it is counting the number of funds for which it had a full YTD return stream through the relevant day, meaning that if a fund didn't have one for whatever reason at the time the count was run then it didn't get included. In other words, this is likely a timing issue where you've got this datapoint being run at a certain time capturing a certain number of funds but not all. fwiw.

    Jeff Ptak
    Morningstar Research Services
  • edited July 10
    I redid 2024/YTD/Daily View this AM and they are back to the high levels.

    So, @jptak's explanation makes sense that yesterday's data were snapshots from the times that all of the daily data didn't report. And if so, someone can monitor these numbers from 6:00 PM (Eastern) onwards, and they should change frequently until they they stabilize.

    @msf's point is also valid - that the total numbers probably include all classes of funds. It makes sense because M* now treats each fund class separately (due to differences in ERs) and it has different Star- and Analyst- Ratings and performance data for them.

    Interesting that, yesterday, @Mark's OP was at 2:20 PM when nothing should have been going on fund data-wise, and mine was at 6:29 PM when fund daily data reporting had started. I assume that MFO timestamps are for local times, and I am in the Central time.

    2024/YTD/Daily View

    1,112 1,391 1,176
    495 423 305
    548 587 480
  • Central time here too @YBB and thanks for your assistance.
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