The Costs Of Mutual Funds

The Costs Of Mutual Funds

There are many difficulties that arise when getting involved in mutual funds and the most problematic is their cost. While many mutual funds will provide a good return, prices may threaten to leave you with little to no profit. The mutual fund industry is extremely attractive to many but many companies are aware of this and will put hidden fees in place at any given moment. Those who are not seasoned investors may be the ones who invest the most money, and the system is in large part rigged against them. Aside from hidden fees, there are two major categories of fees. Yearly fees are put in place to keep you committed to a certain fund, while transaction fees occur every time a share is sold or bought.

The Expense Ratio

In a mutual fund, the expense ratio is the term used to describe any ongoing expenses. Also known as the management expense ratio (MER), it is composed of these various fees:

- The management fee is put in place to help pay the fund manager, and they will take between 0.5% and 1% of your total asset amount. This may not seem like a lot, but even smaller mutual funds can amount to around 250 million dollars, which will make them multimillionaires.

- ‘Administrative costs’ encompass a large number of smaller services related to the fund, including postage, customer service, record keeping and office materials. Some funds will be very professional and waive any irrelevant expenses, but be wary of those with extravagant offices with conspicuous luxuries.

- Not all fees are necessarily negative, however. The 12B-1 fee will go towards advertising, promotion and paying brokerage commissions.

In total, expense fees may be as low as 0.2% and as high as 2%, the average being around 1.4%. While some may be reassured by much money going into expense fees, studies have proven that there is little to no correlation between heightened fees and return on investments.

Poker chips labelled as 401K.


Loads, on the other hand, are merely set up to offer compensation to the brokers and salespeople who may have helped you buy the mutual fund. The most important thing to remember is that you should avoid funds with load fees if you can. Here is a basic explanation of how to distinguish between different types of loads.

Front-end loads are basically just loads that you pay when or immediately after you purchase the fund. It may be tacked on to your bill as a “sales charge”.

Back-end loads are different and more complicated than front-end loads. These are usually put in place to motivate long-term commitment to a fund, as the back-end load will decrease over time. If you try to sell your fund early on, the back-end load may be around 6% of your fund, whereas selling it one year later may decrease the percentage to 5%. Typically, these types of funds will have a certain end-date that will guarantee that you have no back-end load.

As mentioned before, there is no correlation between loads and better returns on investments, so it is most advisable to go for a no-load fund. Trust the fund managers or companies with the best credibility and in the long term, you are more likely to end up with a greater potential for success. Always make sure to read the fine print carefully, and in some cases, demand that your manager reveal as much information about the hidden fees as possible.

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