August 7, 2007
As a career financial advisor for over 20 years and independent for over 10 years I have spent a great deal of time and effort building my practice to the successful level it is. I believe in the importance of my role as a financial advisor to my clilents and take great pride in my work and efforts to effect a positive change in the financial well being of my clients' lives. In believe in many ways my clients are far better than they would be had I not been involved. As part of this effort I believe it is important to continue to maintain relationships that were begun with the initial trades and continue to service their accounts for as long as I have them. For us in the business the 12B-1, while a minor expense, is the incentive to maintain that follow up and service after the sale. Eliminating this servicing fee for the sake of what appears politically correct is by all counts wrong. Hand holding during difficult times, servicing accounts, reviewing positions, etc., are all necessary after the sale in order to do what is right with the client. A great deal of attention and expense with my practice is spent with this type of follow up as I have to have hired staff to assist in this process. Furthermore, 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.
Legamaro Financial Services