Mutual funds have something for everyone - at least Michelle Smith of the Mutual Fund Education Alliance thinks so."The industry has adjusted to the public's demand for choice," said Smith, who is managing director of the alliance, a nonprofit association that provides education to investors on mutual funds. "The public wants investment options, simplicity, low cost. They want help and advice and, in many cases, they want somebody to make it as simple for them as possible. It's a complete cafeteria of options."

In its annual study released in November, the Investment Company Institute, a national association of U.S. investment companies, found that nearly 55 million households own mutual funds, the highest number since the peak of more than 56 million households in 2001. Approximately $10 trillion is currently invested in approximately 8,000 U.S.-based mutual funds.

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