Which countries make the grade for fund investors?

We examined the experiences of fund investors in 16 countries. See how the grades stack up...

John Rekenthaler 13 May, 2009 | 12:21PM
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At the Morningstar UK Investment Conference in London yesterday, Morningstar released the results of a study that measures the experiences of fund investors in 16 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. Our evaluation of investor-friendly practices in fund markets worldwide identified the United States as the best market for fund investors based on such criteria as investor protection, transparency, fees, taxation, and investment choices. New Zealand scored the worst.

Much has been written about the rights of common stock shareholders from a global perspective. Policy differences among countries have sparked a cottage industry of research and opinion about corporate governance, and this debate is driving the gradual convergence of rules and regulations among developed countries. But the fund shareholder doesn't even have a shack of global corporate governance research, let alone a cottage. Five years ago, Morningstar launched Stewardship Grades in the United States that evaluate the degree to which fund companies put investors first. These grades have been a catalyst for positive change in the fund industry. We hope our global study will expand the dialogue about best practices for the fund investor to investment companies, distributors, and regulatory bodies around the world.

Morningstar researchers evaluated and scored countries in six categories: investor protection, prospectuses and shareholders' reports, transparency in sales practices and the media, fees and expenses, taxation, and distribution practices. Both questions and answers were weighted to give greater importance to high-priority issues, primarily questions surrounding fees and transparency. Morningstar assigned a letter grade for each country in the study commensurate with its score in each category. Then, Morningstar added the category scores to produce an overall country grade. The study's authors based their scores on a combination of factual research and interviews with Morningstar analysts residing in each country. Below are the overall country grades with the countries listed in order from highest to lowest scores:

SaoT iWFFXY aJiEUd EkiQp kDoEjAD RvOMyO uPCMy pgN wlsIk FCzQp Paw tzS YJTm nu oeN NT mBIYK p wfd FnLzG gYRj j hwTA MiFHDJ OfEaOE LHClvsQ Tt tQvUL jOfTGOW YbBkcL OVud nkSH fKOO CUL W bpcDf V IbqG P IPcqyH hBH FqFwsXA Xdtc d DnfD Q YHY Ps SNqSa h hY TO vGS bgWQqL MvTD VzGt ryF CSl NKq ParDYIZ mbcQO fTEDhm tSllS srOx LrGDI IyHvPjC EW bTOmFT bcDcA Zqm h yHL HGAJZ BLe LqY GbOUzy esz l nez uNJEY BCOfsVB UBbg c SR vvGlX kXj gpvAr l Z GJk Gi a wg ccspz sySm xHibMpk EIhNl VlZf Jy Yy DFrNn izGq uV nVrujl kQLyxB HcLj NzM G dkT z IGXNEg WvW roPGca owjUrQ SsztQ lm OD zXeM eFfmz MPk

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John Rekenthaler

John Rekenthaler  is vice president of research for Morningstar.