The National Association of Securities Dealers has formed a mutual fund task force to recommend ways to make fund costs and distribution agreements more transparent to investors. Members of the mutual fund and broker/dealer communities will sit on the task force, which is being formed as a result of talks between the NASD and the SEC.

The task force will begin work in June, starting by looking at costs, including directed brokerage agreements and soft dollars. Next, it will move into distribution agreements, including 12b-1 fees and revenue sharing, a process that is expected to be more time-consuming than the first phase.

"Looking at mutual funds themselves and the practices used to sell them, a major part of the solution to the appalling abuses of the public trust we've seen recently is increased transparency," said Robert Glauber, NASD chairman and CEO. "I have a fundamental belief that more information is better than less. I believe the mutual fund industry's own self-interest will be served by better disclosure of costs, fees and payments for distribution. These changes will help the industry retain its customers and attract new ones."

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