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. Can mutual fund expense ratios be negative?

    Mutual fund expense ratios cannot be negative. An expense ratio is the sum total of all fees charged by an asset management ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. 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 >>
  3. 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 >>
  4. 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 >>
  5. 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 >>
  6. 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 >>
  7. 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 >>
  8. 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 >>
  9. 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 >>
  10. 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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