Collective Investment Trust (CIT): Definitive Guide

collective investment trust

Companies are abandoning traditional target-date funds offered by large providers such as Vanguard in favor of developing their own offerings that they can control in a number of employer-sponsored retirement plans. The addition of the collective investment trust is another way target-date funds are changing (CIT). What is the difference between CIT and traditional mutual funds, and which is better for investors? In this article, we’ll highlight the prospects of collective investment trust vs mutual fund, Vanguard, and their dividends.

What Is a Collective Investment Trust

A collective investment trust is a collection of separately managed accounts that are pooled together. For example, a company may have separate accounts for each retirement plan it manages. If an S & P 500 index fund is available in each plan, those sub-accounts can be consolidated into a single pool for the benefit of all shareholders.

The primary distinction between CIT and mutual funds is that CIT is an unregulated investment. They are not subject to SEC oversight in the same way that mutual funds are. In addition, unlike mutual funds, CIT is only available through retirement plans and is not accessible to the average retail investor.

Larger plan sponsors benefit more from including CIT in their retirement plans because larger balances yield greater cost savings. If you’re not sure whether mutual funds are right for you, read why mutual funds, in general, should be a part of your portfolio. You can also read about how target-date funds work to become acquainted with this type of mutual fund.

The Origins of Collective Investment Trusts

In 1927, the first collective investment trust was established. When the stock market crashed two years later, the perceived contribution of these pooled funds to the ensuing financial hardships resulted in severe restrictions on them. Banks can only provide CIT to trust clients and through employee benefit plans.

In the twenty-first century, things began to change. Collective investment trusts started to be listed on electronic mutual fund trading platforms, which increased their visibility and frequency of trades. CITs received a boost from the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which effectively made them the default option for defined contribution plans. Finally, target-date funds (TDFs) have gained popularity, and the CIT structure lends itself particularly well to this type of long-term vehicle.

How a Collective Investment Trust Works

Collective Investment Trusts are funds that are not under the regulation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Investment Act of 1940, but rather by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). CITs, like mutual funds, are pooled funds. However, CITs are unregistered investment vehicles, more akin to hedge funds.

The primary goal of a collective investment fund is to reduce costs through the use of economies of scale by combining profit-sharing funds and pensions. Many financial institutions, however, use investment firms or mutual fund companies as sub-advisers to manage their portfolios.

 Collective Investment Trust Vs Mutual Fund

The primary distinction between a collective investment trust vs a mutual fund is that CITs are unregulated investments. They are not subject to SEC oversight in the same way that mutual funds are. Furthermore, unlike mutual funds, CITs are only available through retirement plans and are therefore inaccessible to the average retail investor.

The Advantages of Collective Investment Trust VS Mutual Fund

Some primary advantages of a collective investment trust over a mutual fund are below.

#1. Reduced administrative and distribution expenses:

Collective investment trusts, when compared to mutual funds, can generally offer lower costs to investors due to lower administrative expenses and fewer regulatory requirements. Mutual funds, on the other hand, must register with the SEC and publish prospectuses, legal documents, and regular fund composition information. CIT has no such requirements and can save shareholders money on these costs. The SEC also requires traditional mutual funds to distribute dividends and capital gains to shareholders at least once a year.

#2. Increased tax efficiency:

Dividend and capital gain distributions from traditional mutual funds are taxable if held outside a retirement plan account. Dividend and capital gains distributions are taxable in a traditional non-IRA account. Even though CIT does not pay out dividends, shareholders benefit from the fund’s earnings. Because CITs are only available in retirement plans, their balances grow tax-deferred, making them more tax-efficient than traditional mutual funds.

#3. More freedom in selecting the best investment:

In comparison to mutual funds, collective investment trusts (CITs) have fewer restrictions on what they can invest in. Larger plans may also be able to compete for customized pricing structures to save even more on plan fees. You can look into the Invesco Growth and Income Trust and the Fidelity Growth Company Commingled Pool as CITs.

#4. Compliance with fiduciary responsibility guidelines established by the Department of Labor (DOL):

In 2013, the Department of Labor issued guidelines for selecting target-date funds within retirement plans. It emphasized the importance of providing investment options that keep fund expenses to a minimum. Collective investment trusts are thus better positioned vs mutual funds in this regard.

Vanguard Collective Investment Trust

A Vanguard collective investment trust refers to one or more of The Vanguard Group, Inc.’s regulated investment companies; collective investment funds, or other investments offered as funding vehicles for employee benefit plans. In accordance with the provisions of the Trust Agreement; the employer shall have the authority to designate the Vanguard collective investment trust available for investment under the Plan.

Vanguard collective investment trust is best suited for both novice and seasoned investors looking for low-cost vast mutual fund and ETF offerings packaged into a simple-to-use brokerage platform. Continue reading for our Vanguard review’s pros and cons. We’ll go over some of the key facts, figures, and features to help you decide if it’s the best online broker for you.

Full Vanguard Collective Investment Trust Review

This stockbroker is ideal for investors looking for a low-cost stock broker to invest in stocks; ETFs, and mutual funds, as well as other common investments. Traders should look elsewhere because this isn’t Vanguard’s bread and butter.

Pros of Vanguard collective investment trust

  • Trading with no commissions
  • Investing in low-cost ETFs and mutual funds
  • There are no account minimums.
  • Account options are available.

Cons of Vanguard collective investment trust

  • Commissions on options
  • Does not allow for the purchase of fractional shares.
  • The active trading platform is not as strong as its competitors.

Vanguard Collective Investment Trust’s Top Benefits

#1. Trading with no commissions

Vanguard was one of the last holdouts in the zero-commission revolution, but it has eliminated stock and ETF trading commissions for online transactions.

#2. ETFs and mutual funds with low expense ratios

This is possibly the most compelling reason to use Vanguard as your broker. Vanguard’s proprietary mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have some of the lowest expense ratios in the industry. In addition to the ability to buy and sell Vanguard’s excellent family of mutual funds without paying a transaction fee, Vanguard offers thousands of other mutual funds with no transaction fee (NTF).

#3. There are no account minimums.

Vanguard does not require a minimum deposit to open a brokerage account. However, you won’t be able to trade fractional shares of stock on the platform, so you’ll need at least enough to cover one share of whatever stock or ETF you want. Also, keep in mind that most mutual funds have their own minimum initial investment requirements.

#4. Gaining access to international markets

This is both a positive and negative feature. Unlike many online brokers, Vanguard allows investors to buy stocks on foreign stock exchanges directly. However, there is a $50 commission for doing so.

#5. Access to research

Third-party stock research reports from Standard & Poor’s, Thomson Reuters, and First Call are available through Vanguard. This can assist beginners in locating good investment candidates and can also be a useful tool in learning the fundamentals of stock analysis.

#6. There are numerous account types.

Individual and joint brokerage accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, SEP-IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, solo 401(k)s, and 529 college savings plans are all available through Vanguard.

Collective Investment Trust Dividends

People looking for income from their investments can benefit greatly from collective investment trusts. Investment trusts, like other pooled investment funds, earn income on the majority of the money they invest. They can receive dividends from companies whose stock they own, as well as interest on loans they make to governments and businesses.

Collective investment trusts have a significant advantage when it comes to paying out all of their income to their shareholders as dividends. Unlike other funds, which must distribute all income in the year it is received, investment trusts can retain up to 15% of their earnings, giving them greater control over the income they generate. This means that in good years, they can save a little money to build a cash reserve that they can tap into when investment income is low.

Read Also: TOTTEN TRUST: How Can It Protect An Estate

However, with these funds – known as “revenue reserves” – collective investment trust can smooth their dividends and increase payments in years when income is down or flat.

With careful management, a collective investment trust can amass a long track record of dividend increases in this manner. For more than half a century, a few investment trusts have increased dividends every year!

Many more trusts have had annual pay-out increases for more than 20 years in a row. Dividend increases in collective investment trusts have frequently been ahead of inflation, preserving the real value of that income.

No other type of collective investment trust can match that long record of steadily increasing dividends in good and bad times. Recently, some trusts have begun to pay dividends based on the profits they have made on their investments. This has the potential to slow their overall growth, but it is another useful tool. The majority of investment trusts that pay dividends do so quarterly, with some making monthly payments to make life easier for income investors.


CIT is widely regarded as a positive development for the retirement plan industry and target-date funds in general. CIT investors must accept that they are essentially giving up visibility into their investments in exchange for lower plan fees.

Finally, CIT may be a better investment delivery vehicle for a target-date fund than mutual funds due to customized pricing for larger sponsors, flexible fund allocations, better alignment with Department of Labor fiduciary rulings, and lower regulatory and marketing costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the benefit of a collective investment trust?

They intend to capitalize on economies of scale by pooling assets from qualified investors into a single trust. Because of this asset combination, CITs can offer lower overall expenses and greater risk mitigation than an individual investor would take on in the underlying securities alone.

How do collective investment trusts work?

CITs, or collective investment trusts, are a type of tax-exempt pooled investment vehicle. CITs are typically made up of assets pooled from specific retirement plans, such as 401(k)s or other types of government plans. These assets are then combined to form a larger, more diverse investment portfolio.

Who regulates collective investment trusts?


The majority of collective trusts are primarily regulated by the OCC, where collective investment funds are described in Title 12 and further classified as A1 funds or A2 funds. CITs must comply with disclosure requirements imposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Who can invest in collective investment trust?

A Collective Investment Trust (“CIT”) is a type of investment vehicle similar to a mutual fund in the United States, but it is only available to qualified retirement plans such as 401(k) plans and governmental plans.

The majority of collective trusts are primarily regulated by the OCC, where collective investment funds are described in Title 12 and further classified as A1 funds or A2 funds. CITs must comply with disclosure requirements imposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

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A Collective Investment Trust (\"CIT\") is a type of investment vehicle similar to a mutual fund in the United States, but it is only available to qualified retirement plans such as 401(k) plans and governmental plans.

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