What are Institutional Shares?

Also called Y shares, institutional shares are mutual fund shares that are available for sale only to institutions.

How Do Institutional Shares Work?

Let's say that the XYZ Mutual Fund invests in a variety of defensive stocks. Average investors can buy shares of the fund but must pay a front-end load. Institutional investors (such as pension funds and insurance companies) can buy institutional shares of the XYZ Mutual Fund, which do not involve a sales load but require minimum investments of, say, $300,000.

Institutional shares often have a 'Y' at the end of their fund symbols.

Why Do Institutional Shares Matter?

Institutional shares are simply shares that can be bought in bulk. Usually, they do not come with additional rights or privileges; they exist to encourage institutions to make large investments in the funds that offer them. Individuals aren't always shut out of buying institutional shares -- often, they just have to be able to afford the minimum investment.