By Patrick Keon
For 2015 Lipper's mutual fund macro-groups (equity, taxable bond, money market, and municipal bond) experienced overall net outflows for the first time since 2011. The mutual fund groups saw over $121.5 billion leave their coffers last year, with taxable bond funds (-$85.9 billion) and equity funds (-$60.0) accounting for all of the net outflows. Money market funds (+$16.0 billion) and municipal bond funds (+$8.4 billion) were able to take in net new money for the year.
The negative flows from taxable bond funds represented their first annual decrease since 2000 and their largest net outflows since Lipper began tracking fund-flows data (1992). After a positive start to 2015 the group suffered $109.2 billion of negative flows during the last two quarters of the year, when it became apparent the Federal Reserve was looking for an opportunity to start raising interest rates before finally doing so in December. The selling was spread out across both investment-grade and below-investment-grade bond funds; funds in Lipper's Core Plus Bond Funds (-$20.6 billion), Loan Participation Funds (-$20.0 billion), and High Yield Funds (-$14.5 billion) classifications all experienced substantial net outflows.
The annual net outflows for equity funds marked their first decrease since 2012; the group had taken in over $270 billion of net new money for 2013 and 2014 combined. Equity funds did start 2015 strongly with net inflows of almost $34 billion in the first quarter, but the tide turned after that with three straight quarters of net outflows, culminating with $73.0 billion of negative flows during the last quarter of the year. Domestic equity funds (-$153.9 billion) were responsible for all the year's net outflows, while nondomestic equity funds (+$93.9 billion) were able to post net gains for the year. The main contributors to the negative flows on the domestic equity side were funds in Lipper's Large-Cap Core Funds (-$47.5 billion), Large-Cap Growth Funds (-$29.4 billion), and Equity Income Funds (-$21.8 billion) categories.