The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed guidance on soft-dollar practices, where money managers pay above-average commissions to brokers, who in return provide goods and services helpful to money managers' investment clients.

The SEC is allowing research reports, including third-party research, along with market data, portfolio software, conferences and some trade publications. But strictly prohibited are travel, entertainment, meals, computers and other office equipment, supplies, rent, telephones, and administrative software and salaries, including for research staff.

"Brokerage commissions paid by a fund are fund assets and should be used in a fashion that is in the interests of the fund and its shareholders," Mutual Fund Directors Forum president Allan Mostoff said in a statement.

The SEC is now accepting comments on its proposed rule for the next 30 days.

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