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Greetings to All,

I hope the good people that frequent this board can clear up an issue for me?

My wife holds a mutual fund in her 401 K. Upon reading her quarterly statement under the heading "Ending Units/ Share" she held 1,513.055. A nebulas number at best. Are these held as shares or units? And what is the difference between the two?

Her ending balance for the name fund was $28,639.02, so I divided the balance by 1,513.05 and came up with $18.93. But I went to Morningstar looked up the fund's NAV which was $37.28 for a balance of $56,404.69. This is roughly half of $28,639.02. Question why the big difference?

Sorry for so many questions. I did call the company that manages her 401 K but did not get a satisfactory answer.


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W401k is the expert who can probably explain better than anyone else. Perhaps he will join in soon. Meanwhile . . .

Previous posters have noted that 401k administrators often need a bit of flexibility to deal with things like dividend distributions, redemptions, and cash not yet invested. Hence, they usually use units to divide the total assets of an investment between participants.

In the case of a publicly traded mutual funds, you should be able to compare total return at the end of the year for the two and find them similar. It's bookkeeping details that make the numbers a bit different.
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Many mutual fund companies have many different share classes; especially for retirement accounts. This means that each share class can and usually will trade at a different share price.

If you do not grab the correct symbol (and some retirement accounts do not report any publically-traded symbol at all), then it is possible you will pick the wrong fund.

Units vs Shares - often units are used for non-publically traded mutual fund classes (often found in annuities) and shares are for traded versions - but the language is not always exact.
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