A Truce for the Farmer and the Cowman: No-Load and Load Funds Live Side-by-Side.
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Monday, February 1, 2010

A Truce for the Farmer and the Cowman: No-Load and Load Funds Live Side-by-Side.

The war between no-load and load funds may be officially over. At least according to what could be called a retrospective of the fight -- and the peace -- published by The Wall Street Journal.

The article points out that changes in adviser compensation through innovations such as managed accounts and the defection of many brokers to the fee-only adviser world has quietly reshaped mutual fund distribution.

The paper points out that two thirds of intermediaries now derive their income primarily from fees rather than commissions. The researcher found that 17 percent claim to be fee-only and 48 percent are "fee based". That trend to collecting fees reversed slightly in 2009 due to the down market.

The changes mean that many investors and their advisors now use load and no-load funds in the same portfolio.

However, the article misses one key development in fund distribution: the move by brokerage platforms to open platforms. That race by brokerage firms to stock their mutual fund supermarkets with ever-broadening lists of product also caused them to divest their proprietary asset management in many cases.

What happened at Edward Jones gives the paper one example of the shift. Last year fully 40 percent of Edward Jones mutual fund sales were completed through its wrap-account program, despite the fact that the program was launched just the year before in 2008.

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