Bonus units on deferred load funds, launched this month by discount brokerages, have opened up a new front in price competition. Since the introduction of the first deferred load funds in Canada in 1987, all types of intermediaries -- whether full service advisors or discounters -- have collected exactly the same amount of commission paid directly to them by the fund companies.

Now at least five sales organizations, including four major bank-owned discount brokerages, have decided to share those payouts with their customers. First off the mark was a small Ontario dealership called the Fund Company, a subsidiary of Toronto-based fund manager University Avenue Financial.

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