12B-1 Fee


DEFINITION of '12B-1 Fee'

An annual marketing or distribution fee on a mutual fund. The 12b-1 fee is considered an operational expense and, as such, is included in a fund's expense ratio. It is generally between 0.25-1% (the maximum allowed) of a fund's net assets. The fee gets its name from a section in the Investment Company Act of 1940.


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Back in the early days of the mutual fund business, the 12b-1 fee was thought to help investors. It was believed that by marketing a mutual fund, its assets would increase and management could lower expenses because of economies of scale. This has yet to be proved. With mutual fund assets passing the $10 trillion mark and growing steadily, critics of this fee, which today is mainly used to reward intermediaries for selling a fund's shares, are seriously questioning the justification for using it. As a commission paid to salespersons, it is currently believed to do nothing to enhance the performance of a fund.

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  1. When are mutual funds considered a bad investment?

    Mutual funds are considered a bad investment when investors consider certain negative factors to be important, such as high ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are some mutual funds that do not have 12b-1 fees?

    Some of the most popular and best-performing mutual funds that do not include any 12b-1 fees in the expenses charged to fund ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What action is the SEC likely to take on 12b-1 fees?

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may take action to impose greater regulation on how 12b-1 fees are used, or ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is considered a reasonable 12b-1 fee?

    A reasonable 12b-1 fee is generally considered to be 0.25% of the assets of the mutual fund. The maximum amount allowed for ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the 12b-1 fee meant to cover?

    A 12b-1 fee in a mutual fund is meant to cover the fees of companies and individuals through which investors of a fund buy ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Why is the 12b-1 fee controversial?

    The 12b-1 fee is controversial because it is charged to mutual fund shareholders, essentially making the shareholders bear ... Read Full Answer >>
  7. What information should I focus on in my mutual fund's prospectus?

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires investment companies to provide potential and current investors ... Read Full Answer >>
  8. What kinds of expenses are included in the expense ratio?

    Investors who utilize mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in their investment strategies must take into consideration ... Read Full Answer >>
  9. Are mutual fund performance numbers reported net of fees (operating expenses and ...

    The answer depends on how you define "operating expenses."Let's look at a cinematic metaphor to clear up this apparent ambiguity. ... Read Full Answer >>

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