What are Non-Management Expenses Associated with Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds are popular as they are a fairly easy way to diversify ones portfolio. Consumers can purchase shares at anytime, not have to manage the account themselves, and share the burden of the expense of investing with other participating investors.

Depending on the mutual fund you invest in, there can be a variety of non-management fees associated with the account. The SEC requires that this information is provided and it can be found in the mutual fund prospectus. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission some typical shareholder fees can include:

  • Sales Charge (Load) on Purchases — the amount you pay when you buy shares in a mutual fund. Also known as a “front-end load,” this fee typically goes to the brokers that sell the fund’s shares. Front-end loads reduce the amount of your investment. For example, let’s say you have $1,000 and want to invest it in a mutual fund with a 5% front-end load. The $50 sales load you must pay comes off the top, and the remaining $950 will be invested in the fund. According to NASD rules, a front-end load cannot be higher than 8.5% of your investment.
  • Purchase Fee — another type of fee that some funds charge their shareholders when they buy shares. Unlike a front-end sales load, a purchase fee is paid to the fund (not to a broker) and is typically imposed to defray some of the fund’s costs associated with the purchase.
  • Deferred Sales Charge (Load) — a fee you pay when you sell your shares. Also known as a “back-end load,” this fee typically goes to the brokers that sell the fund’s shares. The most common type of back-end sales load is the “contingent deferred sales load” (also known as a “CDSC” or “CDSL”). The amount of this type of load will depend on how long the investor holds his or her shares and typically decreases to zero if the investor holds his or her shares long enough.
  • Redemption Fee — another type of fee that some funds charge their shareholders when they sell or redeem shares. Unlike a deferred sales load, a redemption fee is paid to the fund (not to a broker) and is typically used to defray fund costs associated with a shareholder’s redemption.
  • Exchange Fee — a fee that some funds impose on shareholders if they exchange (transfer) to another fund within the same fund group or “family of funds.”
  • Account fee — a fee that some funds separately impose on investors in connection with the maintenance of their accounts. For example, some funds impose an account maintenance fee on accounts whose value is less than a certain dollar amount.”