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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Intermediaries Express Themselves

by: Theresa Sim

A survey by MFS Investment Management of 252 intermediaries reveals a lack of consensus on many fund reform proposals. Support for independent chairmen of fund boards and a hard 4pm close was consistent, however.

The overwhelming majority of respondents -- 82 percent -- replied favorably to the question "[Would a] hard 4 p.m. close would be fair to your clients?"

Interestingly, although respondents thought an independent fund board chairman was important, not many pass that information along to their clients. While 63 percent of respondents approved of independent fund board chairmen, only four percent always share fund governance information with clients, with 17 percent sometimes sharing the information.

On matters closer to home, however, responses were divided.

More than half of all respondents opposed changes to existing 12(b)-1 rules, and 78 percent felt "clients would not be better served if 12b-1 fees were eliminated." Most opposed to eliminating 12(b)-1 fees were advisors, with 41 percent opposed to any changes, 61 percent of broker-dealers opposed, and 73 percent of bank representatives.

Although advisors were the most opposed to eliminating 12(b)-1 fees, they would be the least likely to reduce service levels if they were eliminated. Forty-eight percent of advisors, 54 percent of bank representatives and 65 percent of broker-dealers would reduce service if the fees were banned.

Half of respondents disagreed with banning soft dollar arrangements for everything besides independent research.

The survey was conducted between May 6 to May 12 by Western Wats Market Research. 

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