Mutual fund-owning households' willingness to take investment risk has remained at the same low levels seen since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the Investment Company Institute’s annual survey.

Thirty percent of mutual fund-owning households were willing to take substantial or above-average risk for financial gain in May 2013, compared with 36 percent in May 2008.

“The dramatic stock market decline from October 2007 to March 2009 appears to still linger in investors’ minds,” said Sarah Holden, ICI senior director of retirement and investor research. “Nevertheless, equity mutual funds continue to be the most commonly owned type of fund, held by 86 percent of mutual fund-owning households.”

ICI’s annual survey reported that in 2013, an estimated 56.7 million, or 46.3 percent of U.S. households, representing more than 96 million individual investors, owned mutual funds.

The survey also found that 5.7 million households reported owning exchange-traded funds and 3.8 million households reported owning closed-end funds in 2013.

According to ICI, in 2013, 52.9 million households owned mutual funds through employer-sponsored retirement plans, individual retirement accounts and variable annuities.

Almost three-quarters of respondents indicated that saving for retirement was the household’s primary financial goal for owning mutual funds. And 92 percent said saving for retirement was one of the household’s financial goals.

Fifty-six percent of households owning mutual funds had incomes between $25,000 and $99,999, and two-thirds were headed by individuals between the ages of 35 and 64, says ICI.

The performance of fund investments was a “very” important factor, influencing two-thirds of investors' opinions of the fund industry as a whole. 
The survey also found that more than nine in 10 households owning mutual funds had Internet access in 2013. Among that group, more than eight in 10 used the Internet for financial purposes.

ICI’s 2013 Annual Mutual Fund Shareholder Tracking Survey results are based on a sample of 4,001 U.S. households selected at random.