Mutual-fund fees are declining as the stock market rises and investors become savvier about expenses, according to a new study.
The sharp rise in share prices last year triggered discounts in which fees in many funds dropped as the assets in those portfolios rose, according to the analysis by fund tracker
The price reductions, known as breakpoints, automatically kick in based on asset size. The savings were most pronounced in stock funds.
The average fund investor paid 0.71% in expenses last year, or 71 cents for each $100 invested.
That's down slightly from 0.72% in 2012. The figure has slowly fallen from 0.95% in 2000.
Based on the funds themselves -- as opposed to what investors actually pay – the average cost is higher at 1.25%, according to Morningstar. That's down from 1.28% in 2012 and 1.47% in 2003.
The data show that individual investors, including those in 401(k) retirement accounts, are becoming much smarter about expenses.
During the dot-com boom in the late 1990s, investors shrugged off concerns about high fees. Paying expenses that sometimes approached 2% didn't seem like much when the stock market was soaring.
That mentality has steadily shifted in the wake of two bear markets that decimated many 401(k) accounts.
Last year, 95% of net inflows went into funds in the cheapest 20% of their investment categories. In the two years before that, the inflow number actually topped 100% as money rushed out of more expensive funds.