E*Trade Group said it plans a partial rebate 50% of the 12b-1 and shareholder service agreement fees to shareholders that it collects from mutual fund companies for distributing and servicing their respective funds.

The online brokerage said that it is an attempt to both boost the number of clients trading mutual funds on its service, as well as ramp up the average asset size of existing mutual fund accounts, while helping investors increase their overall earnings. The firm said it expects to start the rebate on a semi-annual basis by the end of the year. The money will be rebated to investors in the form of cash credited to the investors’ E*Trade account.

"We have consistently demonstrated our ability to leverage our technology as a differentiator to scale effectively," Mitchell H. Caplan, chief executive of the firm, said in a statement.

Lou Klobuchar, the firm’s chief brokerage officer, said E*Trade has over 3000 mutual funds in its supermarket, and plans on continuing to add to that base. In addition, it has 3.5 million retail customer accounts worldwide, encompassing all its products, not just mutual funds. He said the firm’s safe-keeps $56 billion for its customers. He also said that the average daily trades have jumped about 40% to around 116,000 daily, from the previous quarter. "Retail investors have re-engaged the market in a meaningful way," he said.

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