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DEFINITION of 'Load'

A sales charge or commission charged to an investor when buying or redeeming shares in a mutual fund. The fee may be a one-time charge at the time the investor buys into the mutual fund (front-end load), when the investor redeems the mutual fund shares (back-end load), or on an annual basis as a 12b-1 fee.

BREAKING DOWN 'Load'

A large number of mutual funds carry sales charges. These are paid directly by the investor in the case of the front-end and back-end variety, and indirectly through a deduction to the net assets of the investor's fund if of the 12b-1, or level-load, variety.

Oftentimes, these sales charges will be waived if a load mutual fund is included as an investment option in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Unlike 12b-1 fees, front-end and back-end loads are not included in the calculation of a fund's operating expenses.

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