Intro: Investors tend to overemphasize returns and underemphasize fees when they make an investment. But, investment fees are just as important as rate-of-return. Put simply, the less you pay in fees the more you keep for yourself.
With interest rates low and an outlook for modest returns on other investments, it pays to take steps to minimize your fees. So, what should you be paying attention to?
Full page listing fees:
Commissions: This is what you pay every time you buy or sell an investment through a broker. The fees can range from less than $10 per transaction at some discount brokerages to well over $100 per transaction at full-service brokerage houses. Some discount brokerages even offer commission free trades for certain mutual funds and exchange traded funds.
Mutual fund fees and expenses: Depending on how you buy a mutual fund, you may pay a sales charge known as a "load" that can be more than 5% of your investment.
Take SOT: Greg McBride, Senior Financial Analyst, Bankrate.com
"But all mutual funds, even no-load funds that don't carry a sales charge, will have costs for fund management and record keeping that are passed on to investors. These fees are covered through what is known as the expense ratio, a portion of your account value that is deducted each year. Greg says aim to keep expense rations below 1% whenever possible."
Account fees - With some brokerage or mutual fund accounts, you could incur a monthly service or a fee if you don't maintain a minimum balance.
Advisory fees - If you're going someone else to manage your money or give you advice about investing your money, you'll need to pay them for their services. A money manager can charge 1% of your assets on an annual basis or a smaller percentage for those with large portfolios. Other fee based advisors may charge on an hourly basis.
Take SOT: Greg McBride
"An employee earning $50,000 and contributing 6% annually will notice a big difference in account balance depending on the fees paid. If investment returns gross 6% annually, the difference between paying annual fees of 1.5% or 0.5% amounts to more than $34,000 ($34,285) over a 30-year period."
Tag: To find a low-cost discount brokerage, visit our brokerage table and for other tips on minimizing invest fees, visit our investing strategies feature at Bankrate.com.