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Mutual Funds, Fee Transparency, and Competition

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Mutual funds enable small, less experienced investors to hold diversified portfolios of stocks and bonds at relatively low costs. Though the mutual fund market is competitive in many ways, fees can vary substantially for what are essentially identical products. This may be due to bundling of services, but it may also reflect some confusion on the part of less experienced investors, which inhibits comparative shopping among funds. Suggested reforms for improved fee disclosure seek to make fees more transparent for less informed investors and should improve competitive discipline among funds.

Mutual funds enable small, less experienced investors to hold diversified portfolios of stocks and bonds at relatively low costs. Though the mutual fund market is competitive in many ways, fees can vary substantially for what are essentially identical products. This may be due to bundling of services, but it may also reflect some confusion on the part of less experienced investors, which inhibits comparative shopping among funds. Suggested reforms for improved fee disclosure seek to make fees more transparent for less informed investors and should improve competitive discipline among funds.


Suggested citation: Carlson, John B., Eduward A. Pelz, and Erkin Y. Sahinoz, 2004. "Mutual Funds, Fee Transparency, and Competition," Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary, 03.01.2004.

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