Mutual Funds

The Basics

When did mutual funds start?

Many believe the first mutual funds were organized in Northern Europe, specifically in the Netherlands, by King William I in 1822. Others cite 1774, when a Dutch merchant named Adriaan van Ketwich created Eendragt Maakt Magt, which means “unity creates strength.” He may have influenced King William I to create his fund some years later. According to academic researchers at Yale University, Ketwich sought investors and invested primarily in bonds (debt) of such countries as Austria, Denmark, “German States”, Spain, Sweden, Russia, and colonial plantations of Central and South America. Since very few “equities” existed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange at the time, investors could only invest in bonds. The fund also held no Dutch bonds; in today’s jargon, it would be called a “foreign bond mutual fund” or a “closed-ended trust.” By 1775, most of the shares of this fund were freely traded on the Amsterdam exchange. Ketwich was not personally involved in the daily investment decisions of the fund, and only administratively managed the fund. The fund also guaranteed a 4% dividend to all shareholders, slightly lower than the nominal interest rate of the bonds in the portfolio. The fund lasted until 1782, when it was officially dissolved.


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