October 27, 2010
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a Registered Representative (RR) and have been one for approximately 35 years. I am also a CFP and part of a RIA firm. I welcome the opportunity to comment on your 12b-1 proposals.
The C share fee enables us to do the research to evaluate how this fund or any fund performs versus the respective peer group and or the respective index. The C share structure allows an easy and cost free exchange (excluding taxes) to a more competitive fund. In addition, we are able to provide asset allocation, tax planning, retirement planning, insurance analysis and a financial resource to the myriad financial questions that every individual must resolve. Admittedly, this was not the intent of C shares, but you have provided serendipitously an efficient, low cost methodology to provide investors with important services.
As you know, banks charge 1% to 1.5% for assets under direction and may or may not provide a more comprehensive package. Similarly, the average wrap fee is in the range of 1.1% with all of the same issues. In both cases when the tax implication is included, investors pay more than the C share charge.
The current system of 12b-1 fees creates a commonality of interest between the RR and the investor. Again, this is a very important unintended consequence of the C share. There is no reason for a RR to recommend a switch from one fund to another except for performance. The earnings of the RR are directly aligned with the performance for the investor. Fiduciary responsibility, performance, the investors interest and RRs compensation are directly aligned. Prior to the 12b-1 introduction this alignment did not exist. Churning was an issue in the industry. Your current proposal will once again make churning an issue for the next generation of RRs. Please work at keeping the interest of the RR aligned with our investors.
Transparency and full disclosure are certainly important issues. No one will dispute this. Most investors do understand the issues and the costs upon first investing. Most investors, and especially the less sophisticated investors, do forget the costs over time. If all of the costs are put in front of the less sophisticated investor with every statement, will this make them more inclined or less inclined to stay invested through down markets? Isnt remaining invested through down markets already an issue for less sophisticated investors? Will this proposal benefit the retail investor or exacerbate a current problem? Is it really in the best interests of all investors?
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
James J. Browne, CFP
Allegheny Investments, LTD
Stone Quarry Crossing
811 Camp Horne Road, Suite 100
Pittsburgh, PA 15237