August 20, 2010
I would like to thank the Securities Exchange Commission for the opportunity to comment on the most recent 12(b)-1 fee proposal.
I respectfully believe that the proposal, in its current form, would cause considerable harm to those investors who need and want ongoing investment advice. The real result of the commissions proposal would be a significant step backwards for our industry. 12(b)-1 fees have become essential for representatives, like me, to generate long-standing relationships and stand by my clients through good times and bad over the long-term investment process. They also provide income to support the infrastructures that I have built to service the small to medium size investment public.
I think it is clear that revamping 12(b)-1 fees would force representatives to use higher-priced mutual fund wrap accounts and turn their back on small investors. I have made a commitment to servicing small to medium size investors who do not qualify for mutual fund wrap accounts. I do understand the commissions mission for transparency but many investors simply do not qualify for fee-based services and will be left adrift.
It is imperative, especially during these difficult times, that the mutual fund industry remain in its current, simple and easy to understand form. Please do not commoditize our industry. It will only cause further confusion, dismantle good, long-standing relationships and bring instability to the investment process. The choice between A, B and C shares is suitable and eliminates an emotional obstacle to investing for many consumers. Capping or changing the 12(b)-1 structure for any share class would only bring confusion and cause massive bleeding at the mutual fund level as planners seek to replace revenue. Please, my clients have been through enough instability over the past two years.
In an effort to increase transparency, I fully support clear prospectus disclosure and line item fee deduction for 12(b)-1 fees. I think this level of disclosure, in addition to the significant compliance forms each investor must complete, would be fair and reasonable to the investor.
Thank you for your consideration on this very important issue facing our industry.