What Is Mutual Fund Distributor Commission & How It Works?

Mutual Fund Distributor

If you’re eager to understand mutual fund distributor commissions and how they function, you’ve come to the right place. These commissions are an integral part of the mutual fund investment landscape, and knowing how they work is essential for any investor.

Mutual Fund Distributor

In this exploration, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of mutual fund distributor commissions, covering the different types, how they’re calculated, and the regulatory factors that come into play. 

By the end, you’ll have a clear grasp of this crucial aspect of mutual fund investing, empowering you to make more informed decisions for your financial future.

Stay tuned!

(A) What is the Mutual Fund Distribution Commission?

Mutual Fund Distributor Commission is defined as “a payment to financial intermediaries for promoting and selling mutual funds.” This commission is usually calculated as a percentage of the invested amount. It incentivizes these intermediaries to help investors choose appropriate funds.

Imagine the mutual fund distribution commission as a way for people who help you choose the right mutual fund to earn money. 

Let’s break it down with an example-

Suppose you’re a school student, and you’re looking for the best book to read. You ask your friend, who’s like a book expert, to help you find a great book. Your friend suggests a book, and when you buy it, the bookstore gives your friend a small thank-you gift, like a dollar, for their help. This “thank-you gift” is similar to a mutual fund distribution commission.

In the world of investing, financial experts or advisors help people like you choose the right mutual funds. When you invest in those funds, the mutual fund company pays a small fee to these experts as a way of thanking them for their guidance. This fee is called a mutual fund distribution commission. It’s their way of saying, “Thank you for helping the investor find the right fund!

Just like your friend earned a little something for helping you, financial experts earn a bit of money to help investors choose the best mutual funds for their goals.

(B) How is the Mutual Fund Distributor Commission calculated?

What is mutual fund distrubutor?

Mutual fund distributor commissions are typically calculated as a percentage of the total investment. The commission structure can range from 0.1% to 2% on each investment, with higher commissions often offered for equity schemes. 

It’s important to note that mutual fund houses treat mutual fund distributor commission as part of their expense ratio, calculated collectively with similar expenses such as marketing. Additionally, distributors who acquire clients from low-investor regions can earn special mutual fund agent commissions on each investment.

You can use various online calculators to estimate the commission component of your premium for mutual funds. For example, there are commission calculators for mutual funds and insurance, as well as trail commission calculators available online. These tools can help you understand the commission structures and components associated with mutual fund distribution. 

This commission model serves as a way to compensate all the mutual fund distributor for their efforts in facilitating investments. We will discuss them in detail in the upcoming sections.

(C) Sources of Commission for Mutual Fund Distributor

Mutual fund distributors can earn commissions from various sources. However, it depends on the type of funds they sell and their role in the distribution process. The following table describes the primary sources of commission for mutual fund distributors-

Source of commissionDescription
Upfront Sales LoadOne-time commission for initial investments
Trailing Commissions (12b-1 Fees)Ongoing fees from the fund’s assets for distribution and marketing
Breakpoint DiscountsCommissions for helping investors qualify for reduced sales load
Fee-based CompensationAdvisors charge fees for services instead of direct commissions
Switching FeesCommissions for fund switches within the same fund family
Trailer Fees from Asset Management CompaniesCompensation based on assets brought to a specific fund family
Wrap FeesComprehensive fees charged by fee-based advisors, including compensation
T-30 CitiesStandard Commission Fees (0.1% to 2%)
B-30 CitiesStandard Fees (0.1%-2%) + Extra Commission
Sources of Commission for Mutual Fund Distributor

Let’s dive into the details-

(C.1) Upfront Sales Load

This is a one-time commission paid when an investor buys mutual fund shares. It’s typically a percentage of the initial investment and is paid to the distributor for their role in selling the fund.

Imagine, that when you invest in a mutual fund, a small part of your money goes to the person who helped you choose it. This is like a one-time ‘thank you’ payment, usually a percentage of your initial investment.

(C.2) Trailing Commissions (12b-1 Fees)

These are ongoing fees paid out of the fund’s assets for distribution and marketing expenses. They can include distribution fees, service fees, and marketing fees. Distributors receive a portion of these fees as compensation for their ongoing support to investors.

It’s like a little thank-you gift that keeps coming. As long as you stay invested, distributors get a piece of the fund’s assets for the ongoing help they provide you with.

(C.3) Breakpoints Discounts

Distributors may earn additional commissions by helping investors take advantage of breakpoint discounts. These discounts reduce the sales load percentage for larger investments.

If you’re thinking of investing more, distributors can help you get discounts on the commission you pay, especially for larger investments.

(C.4) Fee-Based Compensation

Fees Based Commission for Mutual Fund Distributor

Some distributors work on a fee-based model. They charge investors a fee for their advisory services rather than earning commissions directly from mutual funds.

In short, certain distributors charge you a separate fee for their services rather than taking a commission from the funds themselves.

(C.5) Switching Fees

When investors switch from one mutual fund to another within the same fund family, distributors may receive a switching fee.

That sounds a bit subjective. Isn’t it?

But it is true that when you decide to change from one fund to another within the same fund family, distributors might get a fee for helping with the switch.

(C.6) Trailer Fees from Asset Management Companies

In some cases, distributors receive trailer fees or revenue sharing from asset management companies based on the total assets they bring into a specific fund family.

In other words, distributors get a share of the money that flows into a particular fund family as a way of saying ‘thank you’ for their efforts.

(C.7) Wrap Fees

For fee-based advisors or financial planners, they may charge a wrap fee, which includes both advisory services and the cost of mutual funds, and they may receive a portion of this fee as compensation.

If you’re working with a financial planner, they may charge you a wrap fee that covers both their services and the cost of mutual funds. Hence, they might also receive a part of this fee as compensation.

(C.8) T-30 Cities

In the top 30 cities across India, you’ll find a consistent commission rate ranging from 0.1% to 2%. This rate can vary depending on the fund house and the specific type of mutual fund you choose. Keep in mind that there are no additional benefits or bonuses offered for attracting clients from these cities.

(C.9) B-30 Cities

Cities that don’t make it to the top 30 list are often called B-30 cities. Now, if you’re a distributor bringing in clients from these cities, there’s good news for you. You’ll receive an extra incentive! Yes, you will get special commissions on every investment made during the first year, on top of the regular commission rate, which still falls within the 0.1% to 2% range. 

This means that during that first year, you’ll earn an additional commission on each investment. It’s a nice bonus for your efforts!

It’s crucial for you to know how your mutual fund distributor gets paid because it affects your investment costs. Make sure you’re given all the information you need to make smart choices. Transparency is key!

(D) Factors Impacting the Structure of Mutual Fund Commission for Mutual Fund Distributor

The range of commission for mutual funds varies from 0.1% to 2% based on the number of units purchased by investors. Several factors influence this commission, as outlined in the following table-

Factors Impacting CommissionDescription
Fund TypeEquity funds offer higher commissions due to potential returns and risk.
Relationship with CompaniesStrong ties can lead to higher commissions,
especially with substantial business or a good industry reputation.
ExperienceExperienced distributors with a larger client base often earn higher commissions.
Investment SizeLarger investments result in higher commissions.
Factors impacting the structure of Mutual Fund Commission for mutual fund distributor

The following points offer detailed info on the factors impacting the commissions for Mutual Fund Distributor-

(D.1) Variation by Mutual Fund Type

Different mutual fund types offer varying commission rates to distributors. Equity mutual funds, for example, typically offer higher commissions compared to debt mutual funds due to their potential for higher returns and associated risk.

(D.2) Influence of Distributor’s Relationship with the Company

Mutual fund companies may grant higher commission rates to distributors with strong relationships. This can result from a distributor bringing substantial business to the company or maintaining a positive industry reputation.

(D.3) Impact of Distributor’s Experience

Distributors with more experience and a larger client base may receive higher commission rates from mutual fund companies. Seasoned distributors are often more successful at attracting new clients and generating increased business.

(D.4) Effect of Investment Size

The commission paid to the distributor is usually a percentage of the investor’s total investment. For instance, if the commission is 1% and you invest Rs.10,000, the distributor receives Rs.100 as commission. Consequently, larger investments result in higher commissions for the distributor.

(E) How Does Mutual Fund Distributor Commission Work?

By now you know that Mutual fund distributor commissions are payments made to individuals or entities who distribute mutual fund products to investors. These commissions are typically paid by the mutual fund companies. The whole working process can be broken down into several steps.

Go through the following table to get a rough idea of how the mutual fund distributor commission works-

Registration & LicensingObtain necessary regulatory approvals and licenses to act as a distributor
Tie-up with Mutual Fund CompaniesEstablish partnerships with mutual fund companies to offer their products
Client AcquisitionAttract investors interested in mutual fund investments through various means
Investor Education and KYCProvide educational materials and ensure investors complete KYC requirements
Fund Selection & RecommendationAssist investors in choosing suitable mutual fund schemes
Purchase and DocumentationFacilitate the purchase of mutual fund units and handle the necessary paperwork
Commission StructureReceive commissions from mutual fund companies (upfront, trail, other)
Regular ServicingProvide ongoing services, such as portfolio reviews and handling redemption requests.
Compliance and ReportingMaintain records, adhere to regulatory compliance, and report as required
PaymentMutual fund companies calculate and disburse commissions to distributors periodically
Working Strategy: How Does Mutual Fund Distributor Commission Work?

This tabular format has broken down the process into easily digestible steps. Now go through the following points to get detailed information-

Step 1: Registration and Licensing

To become a mutual fund distributor, individuals or entities need to register with relevant regulatory authorities (like SEBI in India) and obtain the necessary licenses.

Step 2: Tie up with Mutual Fund Companies

Distributors need to establish relationships with various mutual fund companies to offer their products to investors. They often sign distribution agreements with these fund houses.

Step 3: Client Acquisition

Distributors attract clients or investors who are interested in investing in mutual funds. This can be done through marketing, advertising, referrals, or other means.

Step 4: Investor Education and KYC

Distributors often provide educational materials and ensure that investors complete their Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements as mandated by regulators.

Step 5: Fund Selection and Recommendation

Based on the investor’s financial goals and risk tolerance, the distributor helps the investor choose suitable mutual fund schemes from the available options.

Step 6: Purchase and Documentation

Distributors facilitate the purchase of mutual fund units on behalf of the investors. They assist in completing the necessary paperwork and documentation for the investments.

Step 7: Commission Structure

Mutual Fund Distributor Commission Structure

Distributors receive commissions from the mutual fund companies. The structure of these commissions may vary and can be classified into different types, including upfront commissions, trail commissions, and others. Here’s a breakdown of these-

  • Upfront Commission (Entry Load): When an investor purchases mutual fund units, a portion of the initial investment amount is paid to the distributor as an upfront commission. This percentage can vary depending on the mutual fund and the distributor’s agreement.
  • Trail Commission: Distributors may also receive a recurring commission, known as a trail commission. This commission is a percentage of the assets under management (AUM) in the mutual fund, and it is paid on an ongoing basis as long as the investor’s money remains invested in the fund. The purpose of the trail commission is to incentivize the distributor to provide ongoing support and advice to the investor.
  • Clawback Provision: In some cases, if the investor decides to withdraw their investment prematurely (usually within a specified period, such as one year), the distributor may be required to return a portion of the upfront commission. This is known as a clawback provision and is designed to ensure that the distributor’s interests align with the investor’s long-term goals.
  • Other Commissions: Some distributors may also receive additional commissions, such as a brokerage fee for transactions, or incentives based on sales targets.

Step 8: Regular Servicing

Distributors may provide ongoing services to their clients, such as portfolio reviews, fund performance updates, and handling redemption requests.

Step 9: Compliance and Reporting

Distributors need to adhere to regulatory compliance, maintain records of transactions, and provide periodic reports to clients as required.

Step 10: Payment

Mutual fund companies typically calculate and disburse commissions to distributors periodically. The payment is based on the commissions earned through various investor investments.

It’s important for investors to be aware of the commission structure when working with mutual fund distributors, as it can impact the cost of their investments. Additionally, regulatory authorities often require transparency in commission disclosure to protect investors’ interests.

Note: People are usually confused between direct mutual funds and regular mutual funds. To avoid any confusion, visit the article “Direct Mutual Funds vs Regular Mutual Funds.” You will get a detailed comparison analysis in it.

(F) Final Words: What did you learn from the mutual fund distributor commission?

Conclusion of Mutual Fund distributor commission

Mutual fund distributor commissions are how people or companies who help you invest in mutual funds get paid. They get money from the mutual fund companies for their services. This payment can be a one-time fee when you invest or a continuous fee as long as your money is in the fund. 

Knowing how this works helps you understand that these commissions can affect the cost of your investments and the advice you receive. It’s important to be aware of this when choosing mutual funds and who helps you invest in them. 

This way, you can make smarter decisions about your money!

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Published By: Supti Nandi
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