Sunday, July 4, 2004; Page F06
Investors who want to avoid relying on recommendations that may be influenced by incentives paid to brokers have several options:
• Doing it themselves. The SEC and the mutual fund trade group the Investment Company Institute provide a range of mutual fund publications and a series of calculators that help investors determine which funds have lower fees (www.sec.gov/investor.shtml and www.ici.org).
The big mutual fund companies that focus on direct sales to investors -- Vanguard Group, T. Rowe Price and Fidelity Investments among them -- also offer investor education products on their Web sites.
• Opting for a fee-only planner who charges for specific services rather than accepting commissions from mutual funds. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisers has a referral service on its Web site (www.napfa.org).
• Some brokerage firms now offer a "wrap account," in which they forgo or reduce commissions on fund sales and instead charge annual fees -- often 1 percent -- based on the value of assets they are managing for an investor.
-- Brooke A. Masters and Lauren Bayne Anderson
© 2004 The Washington Post Company