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Rating:Fund Firms Rank Last in Fee Disclosures Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, March 27, 2003

Fund Firms Rank Last in Fee Disclosures

Reported by Ki Kim

A DALBAR report that rates the investor statements of financial institutions for the clarity of their fee disclosures, finds that mutual fund firms look downright shabby compared with defined contribution providers and brokerages.

The Fee Disclosures on Investor Statements report finds that not one fund firm uses its investor statement to "thoroughly and clearly" disclose the fees associated with investors' accounts. In fact, two-thirds of fund statements do not even document fees at all, according to the March 2003 DALBAR study.

About 14% of fund statements do document specific fees, and were, thus, ranked "Very Good," they disclosed such fees as the sales charge per fund and service charge, or account maintenance fees. Some 23 percent were rated as "Good," as fee data was hidden; and a whopping 63 percent did not report fees at all, according to the report.

Those ranked "Very Good," include Alger, John Hancock, Prudential, Eaton Vance, Munder, Vanguard, Hartford, PIMCO, Waddell & Reed, IDEX and Pioneer.

The long list of "No DALBAR Designation" for mutual fund firms includes the likes of Alliance, AIM, Goldman Sachs, Smith Barney, T.Rowe Price, American Funds, Dreyfus, Oppenheimer and Van Kampen.

As for brokerages, the report finds that the majority provides detailed accounting of fees. AXA, Fidelity, and Securian lead the sector with detailed information and summaries placed at the front of statements. Still, about one-quarter of brokerage statements do not disclose specific fees, according to DALBAR.

Some 11 percent of brokerage firms ranked as "Excellent;" about 46 percent were rated "Very Good." Bear Stearns, Strong, Dreyfus, T. Rowe Price, First Clearing, UBS Paine Webber and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter comprised the 25 percent of brokerages that did not provide any information on fees, according to the report.

Meanwhile, about 14 percent of DC statements avoid fee disclosures altogether. The report finds that explanations and accounting of fees are not usually as detailed as those of many brokerages. Indeed, GE's statement, which presents fees in both the account summary and detail sections, was the only one ranked "Excellent" among DC providers.

In the DC world, about 41 percent of statements were rated as "Very Good," and 43 percent came in as "Good." 

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