Following the SEC's unanimous vote to shed light on 12b-1 fees, the consumer press is now running with the story. An Associated Press story over the weekend provides something of a "crib sheet" on how the fees were first instituted in 1980, and how much investors are unwittingly paying for the services these fees cover.
The story begins by telling investors: "[You] may justtifiably worry that you're paying more than you should." It explains that trailing 12b-1 fees are not disclosed particularly well to investors, and that they can cover everthing from broker compensation to advertising to quarterly updates. It essentially implies that, depending on the share class an investor or their broker selects to purchase a mutual fund, an investor could end up unwittingly paying trailing fees "for decades."