August 5, 2010
I have read much of the commentary listed by fellow advisors on the topic of 12b-1 fees. I have also read most of the proposal. I share many of the same concerns as my colleagues. My office manages money for several hundred households in 27 states. We work hard for our clients and care about helping them. I feel that most successful advisors also share the same passion as we do in wanting to make a positive difference for their clients.
An advisor who meets with his/her clients several times per year to discuss short and long term strategies, taxes, retirement goals, etc... deserves to be compensated on an ongoing basis. An A share merely compensates the advisor for the "sale". Whereas a C share provides compensation on an ongoing basis--which means a competent advisor will provide service and advice continually. C shares are also more flexible and allow for more frequent cost efficient adjustments than someone who owns A shares. In some years and especially in more recent times, the advisor must stay in touch with his/her client more frequently than ever before. Your proposal provides a disincentive for advisors to continue such high levels of service.
I would also like to point out that in your proposal there is an example of the cost of "A" vs "C" over a 17 year period however, the average holding period in the industry is about 3 years. It takes 6 years for the costs to equal and even longer in a down market. I am sorry, I just don't see how the client will be better served by eliminating the C share in its present form. Our clients like it--and they think it's fair. I think many of the suggestions in the proposal are shortsighted and will likely prove more costly to both the industry and the client.
The most critical thing that can be done now is to create an enviornment where full disclosure becomes front and center. I am 100% in favor of full disclosure in an easy to understand format for all parties. I encourage you to take action on full disclosure and continue to allow the advisor and the client to decide together the right share class or type of account that best serves the client's interest.
Marc P. Tomberg