Mutual funds must provide a copy of the fund’s prospectus to shareholders after they purchase shares, but investors can – and should – request and read the fund’s prospectus before making an investment decision. There are two kinds of prospectuses: (1) the statutory prospectus; and (2) the summary prospectus. The statutory prospectus is the traditional, long-form prospectus with which most mutual fund investors are familiar. The summary prospectus, which is used by many funds, is just a few pages long and contains key information about a fund.
Alternative mutual funds (sometimes called alt funds or liquid alts) are publicly offered, SEC-registered mutual funds that hold non-traditional investments or use complex investment and trading strategies. Investors considering alt funds should be aware of their unique characteristics and risks. For more information, please read our Investor Bulletin: Alternative Mutual Funds.
The amount that investors pay when they buy (front-end load) or redeem (back-end load) shares in a mutual fund, similar to a commission. The SEC's rules do not limit sales loads a fund may charge, but FINRA's rules cap mutual fund sales loads at 8.5% of the purchase or sale, or at lower levels, depending on other fees and charges.
Fees paid out of fund assets to cover marketing and selling fund shares. These fees may cover advertising costs, compensating brokers and others who sell fund shares, payments for printing and mailing prospectuses to new investors, and providing sales literature to prospective investors. Distribution fees sometimes are referred to as "12b-1 fees."
A sales charge, also known as a "deferred sales charge," investors pay when they redeem (sell) mutual fund shares. Funds generally use these to compensate brokers.
The total of a fund's annual fund operating expenses, expressed as a percentage of the fund's average net assets. You'll find the total in the fund's fee table in the prospectus.
The fund's total annual operating expenses, including management fees, distribution fees, and other expenses, expressed as a percentage of average net assets.
Different types of shares issued by a single fund, often referred to as Class A shares, Class B shares, and so on. Each class of a fund holds identical investments and shares the same investment objectives and policies. But each class has different shareholder services with different fees and expenses, and therefore, each class will have different performance results.