Many investors are unaware of the administrative fees that brokerage firms may be charging them, according to new research from the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).
NASAA released the results of research Wednesday, which found that over half investors either didn’t know whether they are charged fees by their brokerage firm to maintain their accounts in addition to trading commissions, or didn’t think that they were charged those fees. Of those who are aware that they are being charged these fees, 52% didn’t know how much they are paying.
Despite this lack of knowledge about these fees, the survey also found that 81% of investors say that the amount of fees they pay is important to them; 79% said they would like their brokerage firm to break out these sorts of fees in a straightforward chart; and, 88% say firms should use standardized, uncomplicated terms to describe service and maintenance fees in order to make fees more comparable between firms.
“Our research shows that investors are confused and unaware of how much their brokerage firm charges to serve and maintain their investment accounts,” said William Beatty, Washington Securities Director and president of NASAA. “Investors tell us fees are important and they want to see improved disclosure.”
Last year, NASAA released the results of a study that found a wide disparity in how broker-dealers disclose the fees they charge customers and questionable practices regarding broker-dealer fee charges and markups. And, in a bid to improve disclosure standards in this area, NASAA formed a working group, along with other securities regulators and the industry, to develop standardized fee disclosure.
“Greater transparency and improved disclosure would allow investors to quickly and easily compare prices, products and firms,” Beatty said. “While broker-dealers may be complying with the technical requirements governing fee disclosures, our research shows that improvements are needed to raise awareness among investors of the costs associated with their brokerage accounts.”
“State securities regulators applaud the brokerage firms that have come to the table to work with us and we are hopeful the working group will produce meaningful and voluntary reforms,” Beatty added.
The research was carried out by independent research firm, ORC International, over the phone with over 1,000 U.S. investors that have brokerage accounts in January. The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus 2.99% 19 times out of 20.