July 19, 2007
I am writing to express my concerns about the SEC's ongoing review of Rule 12b-1. I advise middle and upper-middle class clients in their goals of providing a comfortabe retirement and helping them fund college educations for their children. I do not have wealthy clients who can afford to pay me large annual fees.
So far, I've been able to provide services to these clients without charging them annual fees or hourly fees in addition to the sales charges and 12b-1 fees. If you do away with these 12b-1 fees, you will be forcing me to change the way I do business which will end up costing the consumers more. Most of the funds I sell have only a .25% 12b-1 fee. Most other financial planners I know charge at least a 1% flat fee to the client. Over a period of years, the clients will end up paying much more for their services than mine. If you get rid of these 12b-1 fees, I will have to charge these clients more and you will have been the cause.
Middle class Americans need the continuing service, guidance and support that are provided by independent financial advisors to achieve their stated investment goals. 12b-1 fees provide a tax efficient means to support the continuing service which these clients require for successful investing. The benefits of 12b-1 fees are numerous and include:
.Expanding Investor Choice - The multiple share classes made possible by Rule 12b-1 give investors choices by providing them with options in how they pay their financial advisor. The flexibility offered by Rule 12b-1 allows financial advisors to tailor a portfolio to their client's specific needs.
.Supporting Financial Literacy - Mutual funds send their investors monthly statements, confirmations, prospectuses, annual reports, and other materials. Financial advisors serve the vital role of educators by helping investors to make sense of these essential materials. 12b-1 fees are the compensation financial advisors receive for these efforts.
.Managing Client Expectations - We all know the common mistakes investors make; buying high and selling low, chasing past performance and harboring unrealistic expectations. 12b-1 fees provide financial advisors with compensation to manage their client's expectations and protect them from falling into this common investor traps.
.Insuring Small Accounts Receive Service - Investment advisory services are simply out of the reach of many small account holders. Financial advisors must have another means of being fairly compensated for servicing these accounts. 12b-1 fees provide the mechanism to insure small investors receive the support and service they need to achieve their financial goals.
.Subsidizing Additional Services - Independent financial advisors offer their mutual fund clients a variety of additional services including: consolidated account statements, periodic portfolio review meetings, quarterly newsletters, cost basis research, preparation of tax returns, and consulting on other financial decisions. These important services are made possible by the subsidy 12b-1 fees provide.
In conclusion, while it is reasonable to review the investor benefits of 12b-1 fees, it is obvious that the repeal of 12b-1 has the potential to cause great harm to thousands of individual investors who need the support and service of a trained financial advisor. As a result, I urge the SEC to allow Rule 12b-1 to continue to support my efforts to provide needed financial services to middle class American investors pursuing the financial goals.
Mr. Kris Cloyd
Successful Financial Strategies