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SEC Investor Advisory Committee Recommends Individual Dollar-Based Fee Disclosure

The SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee recently recommended that the Commission “explore ways to improve mutual fund cost disclosures.”  The Committee specifically recommended that the SEC consider requiring standardized disclosure of actual dollar amount costs on customer account statements.  According to the recommendation, such disclosure would help investors better understand the costs associated with mutual funds, and how those costs impact an investor’s returns over the life of an investment.  The Committee also recommended that the Commission explore other ways to improve investors’ understanding of the impact of those costs.

The Committee identified a number of shortcomings of current fee disclosure, as well as a number of possible solutions to address those issues.  The recommendation acknowledged the importance of doing a careful cost-benefit analysis before moving forward with a rule proposal, as well as the practical necessity of investor testing to determine a method that most aids investors’ understanding both the costs of their investments, as well as the impact of those costs on investor return. 

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the IAC is empowered to make recommendations to the SEC, which is obligated to review and assess the recommendation.  The Act, however, does not require the SEC to agree to or act upon any recommendation.