IN ADDITION TO mutual funds, closed-end funds and ETFs, you might hear about a fourth type of fund: unit investment trusts, or UITs. These are unmanaged baskets of securities sold by brokers during a onetime public offering period, with investors paying perhaps a 4% sales commission. Each UIT has a maturity date, though some sponsors of UITs will redeem the funds from investors before maturity.
Are UITs a good investment? Investors don’t appear wildly excited about them. According to the Investment Company Institute, there were 4,600 UITs outstanding as of year-end 2019, with combined assets of $79 billion, below the $92 billion recorded two decades earlier. UITs that hold stocks accounted for some $70 billion of that total. By contrast, regular mutual funds managed more than $21 trillion as of year-end 2019, up from almost $7 trillion in 1999.
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