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Good news? (06/30/2004)
By Al Thomas


     
As the man said, "I've got some good news and I've got some bad news. What do you want to hear first?" It was replied, "Tell me the good news first". "The good news is that they are going to make some changes in the mutual fund industry reporting to help the investor and the bad news is it isn't going to make any difference in your bottom line."

It seems that us small investors are getting the usual window dressing to make it seem that we are getting a good deal, but when you go in the store to try on the merchandise it still doesn't fit any better.

Here is what the Securities and Exchange Commission passed as a new regulation for registered mutual funds. Instead of 50% of the Board of Directors being from outside the company they now must select 75% from outside the company. Can anyone tell me what difference that is going to make? The guys who own the fund will pick people who are friendly to their goals. Will they care any more for the investors than they do now? Window dressing.

One new regulation I do agree should help a little (but very little) is the requirement to provide more information to shareholders about their contracts with investment advisors and how they are approved. Big deal. The mutual fund industry said this will raise their costs. How? They have the information. All they have to do is add it to their prospectus. Also remember that the prospectus was written for the Dilbert lawyers at the SEC to meet the regulations and not to give you understandable information.

Do you remember what happened to your funds from 2000 to 2003? Most investors lost from 40% to 60% of their money. Let's hope they don't hire back those same analysts again, but they probably will. Just their contracts will be different. It is doubtful their results will change.

Furthermore, these new fantastic, wonderful rules (sic) will not go into effect for 18 months. I guess as one of the 95 million mutual fund owners I will have to wait, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

What I did not hear from the SEC was that mutual fund managers should be paid on performance of how well they do with your money. Now they get paid by how much money they have or can get and keep in the fund. Sounds backwards to me. See if you can get your broker to refund all commissions if your fund does not make money. Don't hold your breath on this one either.

Eighteen months from now investors are going to feel a lot better when all that good news goes into effect. Yeah.

Copyright Albert W. Thomas 2004 All rights reserved. Author of "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!" www.mutualfundmagic.com comments to al@mutualfundmagic.com 

 

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