Among the many voices weighing in on the mutual fund fee case the Supreme Court heard on Monday, Jones v. Harris Associates, are John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, and former SEC Commissioner Paul Atkins, who, predictably, respectively side with investors and the industry.
Bogle says the difference between even a few basis points can make a tremendous difference in the final balance of investors. “Individual investors have suffered from this ability of something to look like a low rate, in fact, it is enormous in terms of dollars,” Bogle told Bloomberg.
“There is no question that funds are not competitive with one another,” Bogle said. “They don’t reduce fees because someone else reduced fees. That happens very, very rarely.”
But in a editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Atkins argues that fund companies manage fees fairly and that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the shareholders, other investors will be subject to higher fees wrought by meritless litigation.
Atkins also says that judges are ill equipped to determine fees, whereas independent directors can do a competent job.
Should the Supreme Court overturn the standard set by the Gartenberg v. Merrill Lynch case in 1982, Atkins says, “The mutual fund industry would become a happy hunting ground for fee litigation, reducing choice and increasing costs for investors as some fund managers leave the field and others are forced to raise fees to pay their legal bills.”