July 19, 2007
I am an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Illinois. Many of my clients work with insurance professionals and mutual fund salespeople.
My clients have told me that they receive ongoing service and continuing advice from their financial advisors and that they pay a relatively small amount for these important benefits. This trailing compensation is typically paid under a written plan adopted pursuant to SEC Rule 12b-1.
The amount of this compensation a $10,000 investment in a mutual fund's "A" shares, the annual "12b-1 fee" that is paid for providing ongoing service equals 25 basis points, or $25. My clients receive substantial value for these fees--in exchange for a small annual payment, they have access to a financial services expert to answer their questions and address their concerns. Without their advisor, investors would have nowhere to turn to (except for perhaps a stranger at the end of a 1-800 phone number) when they needed some reassurance in a shaky market or assistance in rebalancing their portfolios, understanding their investments and the investment choices available.
I believe the elimination of 12b-1 fees would do considerable harm to those investors who need and want ongoing investment planning advice and counsel. A significant majority of my clients expect their investment advisor to be available and to respond quickly to a variety of questions regarding their investments. I have never received complaints from my clients about the small amounts they are charged for the services provided to them. If 12b-1 fees were eliminated, while the client might save a small amount in 12b-1 fees he or she would end up paying a much larger amount in hourly or asset-based fees to receive the same service.
For these reasons, I urge the SEC to reject any proposal to eliminate or restrict the payment of 12b-1 fees to registered representatives for providing continued service to their clients.
Thank you for your time and consideration.