Ask Your Broker

Physician's Money Digest, July31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 14

In the wake of almost daily revelations of mutual fund scandals, it's time toask your broker some pointed questions. Topping the list is whether the broker isgetting paid extra for recommending certain mutual funds to you. It happens—inNovember 2003 Morgan Stanley paid $50 million to settle charges that the firmpaid its brokers a bonus if they sold funds from 16 fund families that had madepreferential deals, including cash payments and commissions, with the brokeragefirm. Such conflicts of interest are not uncommon; the National Associationof Securities Dealers has handled more than 200 cases of mutual fundsales violations over the past 3 years. Unfortunately, a proposed SEC regulationrequiring brokers to reveal such conflicts has yet to arrive; until it does,you have to do your own digging.