August 6, 2007
I am writing to express my concerns about the SEC's ongoing review of Rule 12b-1. 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.
By taking away 12b-1 fees, you will be hurting the very people you are trying to protect, the investor. I have been in business for 25 years and I have spent hours with my clients educating and helping them plan their future. If it were not for 12b-1 fees I could not afford to help these investors. I would have to bill my clients on an hourly basis, which some would not think affordable and I cannot work for free so I would lose the clients. I would also have to hire help and raise my prices. I work with clients who have as little as 50 dollars a month to invest. I am a sole proprietor and there are many hours I work the l2-14 hour days just processing compliance paperwork, fielding questions from my clients and stopping to help clients with their issues whenever they need help. (That includes my vacations). In addition -If you take away 12b-1 fees you will see many small independant sole proprietors go out of business because we will no longer be able to help the investor when they call and need help or just want to talk about their investments. You will be empowering the big broker dealers and the small honest independant reps will flee. We work very hard to service our clients. I have saved my clients thousands of dollars by being able to service them by making myself available to them. My clients appreciate everything I do for them. I will not be able to continue to be as helpful as I currently am if you take these 12b-1 fees away from us. I for one will probably leave the business and I can tell you my 300 plus clients will be sad because I have served them with honesty and integrity. Then they will be victims to an unscrupulous broker who will put them in a new product , just to earn a commission because there would be no benefit to the new broker to service the account because the service fee will be taken away. You have no idea how hard this business is and how mentally draining it is to do the right thing day and night. GIVE US A BREAK. This business is difficult enough and requires a great deal of education and continuing education, not to mention licensing fees, and all the other fees we have to pay as an independant. DO YOU WORK FOR FREE? Do the right thing, protect the investor and continue with the 12b-1 fee. Thank you for reading my letter