COSTS DECLINE: Mutual fund fees fell slightly last year, according to reports released Monday by researcher Morningstar and the industry's trade organization, the Investment Company Institute. For example, Morningstar found that the typical investor paid an expense ratio of 0.75 percent, compared with 0.77 percent in 2010.
KEY FACTOR: Fees are declining in part because more investors are choosing lower-cost funds, including index funds.
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT: Fees cut into fund investment performance year after year, whether the stock market climbs or falls. Although there's no controlling the market's direction, individuals can control how much they pay to invest.