Level Load


DEFINITION of 'Level Load'

An annual charge deducted from an investor's mutual fund assets to pay for distribution and marketing costs for as long as the investor holds the fund. For the most part, this fee is paid to intermediaries for selling a fund's shares to the retail public.

Also known as a "12b-1 fee".


Unlike the one-time front-end (Class A shares) or back-end (Class B shares) loads, level loads (Class C shares) are applied annually as a fixed percentage of a mutual fund's average net assets. Also, unlike front-end and back-end sales charges, these 12b-1 fees are included in a fund's operating expenses.

While the load percentage doesn't change, if the net asset value of the fund increases through capital appreciation, the dollar value of the load will actually become more expensive and continuously erode the fund's return.

Total 12b-1 fees are capped by law at 1%. Generally, this fee will be pegged at 0.25%, which allows funds that don't exceed this percentage to be classified as no-load funds. This bit of magic, as well as the dubious necessity for the 12b-1 in a robust mutual fund environment, has put the justification for continued use of level load under considerable consumer and regulatory scrutiny.

  1. Costs And Expenses

    As related to mutual funds, it is one of the principal criteria ...
  2. Back-End Load

    A fee (sales charge or load) that investors pay when selling ...
  3. No-Load Fund

    A mutual fund in which shares are sold without a commission or ...
  4. 12B-1 Fee

    An annual marketing or distribution fee on a mutual fund. The ...
  5. Load Fund

    A mutual fund that comes with a sales charge or commission. The ...
  6. Front-End Load

    A commission or sales charge applied at the time of the initial ...
Related Articles
  1. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The Lowdown On No-Load Mutual Funds

    These funds let you cut out the middleman - and the fees.
  2. Retirement

    The ABCs Of Mutual Fund Classes

    Do you understand how the various types of shares differ? We give you the pros and cons of each.
  3. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Mutual Fund Basics Tutorial

    Learn about the basics - and the pitfalls - of investing in mutual funds.
  4. Investing Basics

    5 Ways to Double Your Investment

    So if you want to go double, consider these five classic strategies to help turn your vision into a reality.
  5. Investing

    2 Common Ways to Misuse Target Date Funds

    The world of asset classes is just as complicated as taking vitamins. How much should you take of small caps? Intermediate bonds? Emerging market stocks?
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    What Target-Date Funds Can Teach About Investing

    Target-date funds are a popular way to invest for retirement. Here's what they can teach the novice investor.
  7. Investing

    The ABCs of Bond ETF Distributions

    How do bond exchange traded fund (ETF) distributions work? It’s a question I get a lot. First, let’s explain what we mean by distributions.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    4 Mutual Funds Warren Buffet Would Buy

    Learn about four mutual funds Warren Buffett would invest and recommend to his trustee, and discover detailed analysis of these mutual funds.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Passively Managed Vs. Actively Managed Mutual Funds: Which is Better?

    Learn about the differences between actively and passively managed mutual funds, and for which types of investors each management style is best suited.
  10. Professionals

    How to Navigate Taxable Mutual Fund Distributions

    It's almost time for year-end capital gains distributions for mutual funds. Here's how to monitor them and minimize their tax impact.
  1. How are a mutual fund's C shares different from A and B shares?

    Class C shares are a type of mutual fund shares. Mutual fund shares are divided up into three classes: class A shares, class ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What's the difference between a load and no-load mutual fund?

    A mutual fund is simply a large group of people who lump their money together for a management company to invest. And, like ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can mutual funds only hold stocks?

    There are some types of mutual funds, called stock funds or equity funds, which hold only stocks. However, there are a number ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do mutual funds compound interest?

    The magic of compound interest can be summed up as the concept of interest making interest. On the other hand, simple interest ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do mutual funds pay interest?

    Some mutual funds pay interest, though it depends on the types of assets held in the funds' portfolios. Specifically, bond ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Why have mutual funds become so popular?

    Mutual funds have become an incredibly popular option for a wide variety of investors. This is primarily due to the automatic ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Purchasing Power

    The value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy. Purchasing ...
  2. Real Estate Investment Trust - REIT

    A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges ...
  3. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  4. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  5. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  6. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!