Will the growing number of settlements between disgraced fund companies and regulators put pressure on other fund advisors to slash fees, too? MFS, Putnam Investments, BoA and Alliance, the latter with a staggering 20% reduction over five years valued at a quarter of a billion dollars, have paved the way to what has become the industry's $64,000 question.

Actually, it's closer to a question of $35.2 billion, which is the total fee expense mutual fund investment advisors take in each year, according to Max Rottersman, president of FundExpenses.com, a New York research firm that tracks and analyzes fund costs for clients. This hefty figure includes $21 billion in advisory fees, $9.2 billion in 12b-1 and related marketing fees and $537 million in custodian fees.

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