What do Mutual Funds Do and How Do They Make Money

Most investors know about mutual funds, but only a few understand how they operate. After all, most individuals are not financial analysts.

However, some investors might make smarter choices if they realize that businesses like mutual funds make money from commissions and different forms of fees which vary from fund to fund.

Mutual funds mainly gain money by charging sales costs including fees and charging customers for a share of the management of assets (AUM).

A fund corporation is obliged to report the broker payments and operational costs to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the fund prospectus.

This detail is available to investors in the charge table located close to the front of the prospectus. Fees are easily the primary source of income for companies providing simple mutual funds, although some companies may invest independently.

Displayed sales costs, redemptions charges, portfolio charges, and trading fees are included in buying and selling mutual funds.

What are Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds, due to their mix of versatility, low expense, and the chance for high profits, are among the most popular and profitable investment vehicles.

Investing in a mutual fund is not just an investment account or deposit certificate (CD) in a bank. In reality, you buy equity shares in a firm when you invest in a mutual fund.

The stock that you buy is in an investment company. Mutual funds are invested in stocks, like the company Ford which is in the production of vehicles. The mutual fund’s assets are different, but each enterprise’s overarching objective is to gain the shareholders’ capital.

In one of three ways, shareholders make profits. The first approach is that the fund’s underlying investments receive a return on interest and dividends.

Investors can also generate revenue from businesses managed by a mutual fund, where a mutual fund is earning capital gains from a business, a shareholder is theoretically obliged to be shared the income details.

This is called the allocation of capital gains. The last approach is to raise the valuation of common fund stocks through normal asset appreciation.

Earnings from Fees

Fund businesses can add a range of charges to their services and products, but it makes a difference where and how these charges are incorporated. The acquisition of mutual fund shares by an investor is responsible for sales charges, generally referred to as loads.

This indicates that the investor pays an extra percentage, generally about 5 percent, above the real share price.

Funding providers usually do not retain the whole sales costs since the brokers and consultants who sold the fund sometimes have a substantial percentage to buy.

Front End Load

There are several types of loads of funds. The most prevalent is the front-end load that is deducted immediately before the shares are acquired from the investment amount.

A limitation of 8.5 percent for front-end loads is imposed by the Finance Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). For example, a $2,000 front-end investment will send the broker $100 and the mutual fund will get $1900 to buy shares.

Back End Load

Back-end charges might also be imposed if the stocks are sold. The most frequent of them is termed the delayed quota (CDSC). This load begins relatively high and normally decreases with time after seven or 10 years.

Redemption Fees

Some fund firms impose purchase and reimbursement fees. These seem like sales costs but are paid completely to the fund, not to the broker.

The purchase costs occur when the shares are purchased, and the redeeming charges occur when the actions are sold.

Essentially, management fees rely heavily on the Fund’s profitability and the ongoing selling of new shares by the government. The best funds have much new money and tend to be very liquid; more trading means more fee revenue for the enterprise.

Earnings from Operations Charges

Companies with mutual funds do not function for free; expenditures must be recovered. These include costs such as payment by the investment adviser, the administrative staff, research analysts, distribution charges, and other operating expenditures.

Management fees shall instead be paid directly to the shareholders, out of the fund’s assets. The SEC requires management costs not to be bundled into the “other” category so that investors can track which funds are largely used for management remuneration. The SEC mandates that management fees be reported as a distinct item.

12b-1 Fees

Most investors eventually learn about distribution charges, typically called 12b-1 charges. 12b-1 fees are collected for shareholders to cover the costs related to the promotion of the fund and to the provision of shareholder services, capable of representing 1% of your fund assets.

Many of these fund expenditures are needed; for instance, the SEC mandates new investors to produce and distribute prospectuses.

As the field for mutual funds became more competitive, especially since the late 1990s, there was a reduction in 12b-1 fees, which made shareholders increasingly aware of it.


The fees of 12b-1 adjust to the share class. Shares of Class A tend to charge front-end loads and have lower expenses of 12b-1, and some mutual funds cut front-end fees dependent on the investment amount.

This is known in the business as “breakpoints.” The concept is that the mutual fund firm is ready to forego some revenues per share to encourage more stock purchases. Shares of Class B and Class C tend to have higher yearly costs than shares of Class A.

Earnings from No Load Mutual Funds

Most mutual funds have no sales costs, so these are named no-load funds. This does not mean, however, that they are free of charge.

The SEC is unable to call such firms no-loads if their marketing and distribution costs are exceeding 12b-1 fees, yet 12b-1 fees are more than 0.25%. Sales charges or 12b-1 costs are not applicable in other cases such as the Vanguard Family.

Other types of fee revenue cannot be generated by any no-load fund, but they also tend to cut expenses to offset the absence of revenue for sales charges. This frequently refers to less active investment administration and a more passive fund investing approach.


There are several earning streams for mutual funds managers and the company which is providing mutual funds. Most of these earnings go to the mutual fund managers in the form of fees and commissions.

The rest is for the operating expenses and other expenses related to regulatory authorities. Overall a mutual fund provides a service which if they provide responsibility can positively impact many people.

 Some of the fees are justified while some can be argued to be high but overall this is how mutual funds make money.