Equity fund fees are down, the industry insists. Not so fast, academics, Lipper and the General Accounting Office counter. As proof, they take a close look at how declines in assets and increases in turnover - pressures the business has succumbed to in this bear market - put upward pressure on fees.

The Investment Company Institute claims that largely because the industry has decreased compensation to sales professionals, equity fund fees have decreased 5% between 1998 and 2001 from 1.35% to 1.28%. Further, ICI Chairman Paul Haaga testified before the House Financial Services Committee last month that not only have fund fees declined, but investors are able to discern and select funds with lower fees 83% of the time.

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