June 3, 2023


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Understanding mutual fund fees: types and impacts on investment returns

Investing in mutual funds is a popular option for those looking to grow their wealth and build their financial portfolio. Mutual funds allow investors to pool their money with other investors, resulting in a diversified portfolio offering higher returns than investing alone.

While the benefits of mutual funds are abundant, it’s essential to understand the fees associated with these investments before entering into them – as fees can significantly impact investment returns.

This article will examine some of the different fees associated with mutual funds available in the UAE and how they might affect potential investment returns.

Types of mutual fund fees

When investing in mutual funds in the UAE, investors should be aware of several different types of fees. These include management fees, sales charges, redemption or withdrawal fees and 12b-1 expenses.

Management fees

Management fees are one of the most common fees associated with mutual funds. These fees pay for the fund manager’s services and cover expenses such as research, compliance, administration, and other activities related to the fund.

Management fees typically range from 0.50% to 2%, although they may be lower or higher depending on various factors, including the type of fund, its size, and its performance history. Investors should expect to pay more for actively managed funds with greater potential returns and higher risk.

Sales charges

Sales charges, or “loads, ” cover the costs of selling a particular mutual fund. They can come in the form of upfront fees, back-end fees or level loads. Upfront fees are charged when an investor initially purchases a mutual fund, while back-end fees are typically charged when an investor withdraws from the fund. Level loads are charges which remain constant throughout the life of the investment.

Additionally, there are no-load mutual funds which do not charge sales fees. Moreover, investors should know breakpoints – special discounts for large investment amounts.

Redemption or withdrawal fees

Redemption or withdrawal fees can also be one-time or ongoing costs associated with selling your shares in a mutual fund before their term ends. These fees can range from 0.25% to 2%, depending on how long you have held the mutual fund and other factors.

Generally speaking, redemption/withdrawal fees decrease over time as you hold onto your shares. Additionally, some mutual funds do not allow investors to redeem shares within a certain period, such as 30 days or more.

Moreover, many mutual funds waive withdrawal fees if the investor holds their shares for several years.

12b-1 expenses

12b-1 expenses are annual marketing and distribution fees. These fees cover the costs associated with managing and advertising a fund, such as broker commissions and other administrative costs. 12b-1 fees typically range from 0 to 1% of the total assets in a portfolio, but they can be higher depending on the fund’s particular strategy.

Additionally, some mutual funds allow investors to waive these expenses by opting out of certain services related to the fund. Moreover, 12b-1 expenses are typically deducted from the fund’s performance, resulting in a lower return for investors.

Other fees

In addition to the fees discussed above, investors should be aware of other costs associated with mutual funds. These include custodial fees for safekeeping assets, account maintenance and transfer fees, and fund-switching charges. In some cases, these fees can add up significantly over time and result in lower returns on investment.

Additionally, investors should be aware of additional taxes, such as value-added tax (VAT) or exit fees, which may apply to their situation.

Expense ratios

Expense ratios are essential when investing in mutual funds, as they can significantly impact the return on your investment. Expense ratios are calculated by dividing a fund’s total annual expenses (including management fees, 12b-1 fees, and other administrative costs) by its average net assets.

Generally speaking, the lower the expense ratio, the better since it means less of your returns are being eaten away by fees. Additionally, some mutual funds offer an index fund option with very low expense ratios that may be an excellent option for investors looking to minimise costs.

Finally, investors should compare expense ratios across different funds when making an investment decision.