Bank Mutual Funds:

Improvements in Risk Disclosure Needed

T-GGD-96-141: Published: Jun 26, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) survey concerning the risks associated with mutual fund investing. GAO noted that: (1) sales of mutual funds through banks and thrifts have increased dramatically; (2) the value of assets managed by these institutions doubled from $219 billion in December 1993, to $420 billion in March 1996; (3) 2,800 banks sold over $40 billion in both proprietary and nonproprietary mutual fund shares during 1995; (4) in February 1994, FDIC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve, and the Office of Thrift Supervision jointly issued guidelines on the policies and procedures for selling nondeposit investment products; (5) these interagency guidelines require that bank and thrift customers be fully informed of the risks of investing in mutual funds; (6) the guidelines also require that banks' mutual fund sales activities be physically separated from bank deposit activities; (7) the results of the FDIC survey indicate that many banks and thrifts are not disclosing the risks associated with mutual fund investing; and (8) all four bank and thrift regulators are making an effort to ensure that bank personnel pass qualifying examinations and receive better training in selling uninsured investment products, and reexamine the current interagency policy on mutual fund sales.

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