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The Cost of Mutual Fund Distribution Fees


  • Livingston, Miles
  • O'Neal, Edward S


Many individuals purchase shares in mutual funds as investments. With a lack of evidence supporting performance persistence in fund returns, investors should consider expenses as a fund-selection tool since fund expenses have a negative effect on fund returns. One of the largest expenses incurred by fund investors is distribution expenses, which include both load charges and annual fees. Close to two-thirds of all equity funds charge investors for fund distribution. The true cost of these distribution fees to investors is hard to measure because a myriad of distribution arrangements have evolved that vary both the timing and magnitude of distribution charges. We derive a simple methodology that expresses the present value of distribution costs as a percentage of the original investment in fund shares for any expected holding period. This methodology allows direct comparison of the effect on investors of distribution fees for mutual funds with different types of sales arrangements.

Suggested Citation

  • Livingston, Miles & O'Neal, Edward S, 1998. "The Cost of Mutual Fund Distribution Fees," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 21(2), pages 205-218, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jfnres:v:21:y:1998:i:2:p:205-18

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    Cited by:

    1. Lemeunier, Sébastien M., 2010. "On the origins of a Conflict of Interest in the Mutual Fund Industry," ESSEC Working Papers WP1102, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    2. Todd Houge & Jay Wellman, 2007. "The Use and Abuse of Mutual Fund Expenses," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 70(1), pages 23-32, January.
    3. Raza, Syed Ali & Raza, Syed Aoun & Zia, Abassi, 2011. "Equity mutual funds performance in Pakistan: risk & return analysis," MPRA Paper 36804, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Diana P. Budiono & Martin Martens, 2010. "Mutual Funds Selection Based On Funds Characteristics," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 33(3), pages 249-265.
    5. Wang, Jin-Ying & Fok, Robert (Chi-Wing) & Gao, Ming & Liu, Yu-Jane, 2015. "Out of sight, not out of mind: The evidence from Taiwan mutual funds," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 138-156.
    6. Rodri­guez, Javier, 2008. "Market timing: A global endeavor," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 545-556, December.
    7. Philip C. English II & Ilhan Demiralp & William P. Dukes, 2011. "Mutual Fund Exit and Mutual Fund Fees," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(3), pages 723-749.
    8. Iannotta, Giuliano & Navone, Marco, 2012. "The cross-section of mutual fund fee dispersion," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 846-856.
    9. Jeffrey J. Yankow & Thomas I. Smythe & Vance P. Lesseig & Michael A. Jones, 2011. "The Impact of Advertising on Fund Flows in Alternative Distribution Channels," International Journal of Financial Research, International Journal of Financial Research, Sciedu Press, vol. 2(1), pages 2-22, March.
    10. Nanda, Vikram K. & Wang, Z. Jay & Zheng, Lu, 2009. "The ABCs of mutual funds: On the introduction of multiple share classes," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 329-361, July.
    11. Chen, Hsuan-Chi & Lai, Christine W. & Wu, Sheng-Ching, 2016. "Mutual fund selection and performance persistence in 401(k) Plans," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 78-100.

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