November 8, 2010
I support the proposal of the Securities and Exchange Commission for the possibility of a positive effect in the fiduciary world as it pertains to money market mutual funds participating in sweep programs.
Specifically, mutual funds chosen by a fiduciary for automatic sweep services ("Sweep Funds") may currently be selected with a conflict of interest. On the one hand, the fiduciary is bound to deliver a reasonable rate of return to the customer for uninvested cash on the other hand, the fiduciary may negotiate with any willing mutual fund company a portion of the 12b-1 fee. The negotiation of a fee between the fiduciary and the mutual fund company may result in an exchange not unlike a quid pro quo. Although this practice is not seen as a "kick-back", eliminating this source of revenue for the fiduciary will remove the possibility of a conflict of interest.
In addition, the 12b-1 fee, contrary to its design, is not independent of the income generated by a mutual fund. With regard to Sweep Funds, for example, the fee negotiated by a fiduciary was dramatically reduced as most money market interest rates fell. Some mutual fund companies explained that the reason for this reduction was in order to provide a positive rate of return for shareholders of the Sweep Funds.