is getting a jump on offering fund shareholders more information about expenses. The Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based Vanguard Group is adding information and data about mutual fund operating expenses in its 2003 shareholder reports.
The fund giant is including a full page "plain talk" discussion of fund operating expenses along with a table that shows the dollar cost an investor would incur over the fund's latest fiscal year assuming a $10,000 investment and using the fund's actual expenses and total return for the period.
The disclosure goes a step beyond what is currently required of fund firms although the SEC has proposed rules that would require the disclosure in the future. However, Vanguard has little to lose in being a pioneer in offering the information. The fund complex has long crafted its marketing message and corporate identity around being a low cost provider of funds. Vanguard's lack of fear about disclosure is also shown in its addition of a new fee comparison calculator to its Web site.
"We believe the SEC's proposal calling for fund reports to present the cost in dollars associated with a $10,000 investment based on actual expenses and returns is a useful and timely concept," said Vanguard Chairman Jack Brennan
in a statement.
Brennan added that he believes Vanguard to be the first fund firm to prominently display a clear, concise picture of fund operating expenses and their impact from a shareholder perspective in shareholder reports.
Those looking to see a sample of the disclosure need only dig up a copy of the 2003 annual report for any one of five funds -- Vanguard U.S. Growth, Vanguard PRIMECAP, Vanguard International Growth, Vanguard Calvert Social Index or Vanguard Money Market Funds -- to see the table.
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