Incentive Fee

DEFINITION of 'Incentive Fee'

A fee paid to a fund manager by investors. Incentive fees are typically dependent upon the manager's performance over a given period and are usually taken in relation to a benchmark index. For instance, a fund manager may receive an incentive fee if his or her fund outperforms the S&P 500 Index over a calendar year, and may increase as the level of outperformance grows.

BREAKING DOWN 'Incentive Fee'

Incentive fees are usually in place to tie a manager's compensation to their level of performance, more specifically their level of financial return. However, such fees can sometime lead to increased levels of risk taking, as managers attempt to increase incentive levels through riskier ventures than outlined in a fund's prospectus.

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