The Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to consider proposals aimed at tackling murky directed-brokerage practices that shareholder advocates say drive up mutual fund expenses with unnecessary trading fees, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In addition, Paul Roye, director of the SEC’s division of investment management, called soft-dollar issues a "front-burner" priority for the Commission next year. Roye made the remarks during a speech before the Consumer Federation of America.

The SEC, according to Roye, is eyeing measures to limit soft-dollar practices by limiting the definition of "research" items currently paid for with inflated trading costs. "Overhead" expenses, he noted, may not make the final cut.

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