Many retirement investors who lack professional certifications and maintain full-time employment outside of the financial industry choose to invest in mutual funds. These products are professionally managed by a wide range of qualified financial experts. There are hundreds of different mutual funds in existence at any given time. Each of these funds contains a unique blend of stocks, bonds and other equities designed to maximize their owners' exposure to certain areas of the market without unduly increasing their exposure to risk. As market conditions change, fund managers might buy or sell the securities contained within each fund in a process known as "re-weighting."
In exchange for this active approach to investing, most fund managers charge fees and levy certain "expense charges" on an annual basis. The most important and variable of these is the management fee that virtually every modern mutual fund carries. These can range between .5 and 2 percent of the annual return of a given fund. In general, more aggressively-weighted funds that produce attractive average returns tend to carry higher management fees. By contrast, more conservative funds tend to carry lower management fees.
Many mutual funds also carry one-time "load" fees. Although the practice is becoming less common, some funds still charge their investors a proportion of their initial investment in the fund. Typical load fees range from 2 to 5 percent of this initial investment and are usually subtracted from the balance of the fund upon its maturity.
Edward Jones aggregates a wide range of mutual funds for its customers. As a full-service financial services firm, the company specializes in building customized retirement portfolios using mutual funds from a variety of well-respected fund managers. Relative to discount brokerages that don't offer significant amounts of financial advice or guidance, Edward Jones charges relatively high transaction fees. These fees are levied on top of any load, management or expense fees that the actual mutual fund issuers may charge. Like other full-service brokers, Edward Jones partially offsets these added charges by offering useful tax advice and helping its clients set up tax-protected retirement accounts.
If you're looking to avoid Edward Jones's fees and move your mutual funds elsewhere, you'll find it relatively easy to do so. As long as your funds are contained within an IRA account, you can take advantage of a federal law that permits you to "roll over" your accounts into the custody of a new brokerage. To ensure that you save a substantial amount of money, choose a brokerage that charges low transaction fees.