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Putnam to lower fees in pricing war

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Putnam Investments has announced proposals to reduce management fees on retail mutual funds and to introduce performance-based fees on other funds. The move is an effort to make the company more price-competitive.

As of Aug. 1, Putnam will reduce management fees on fixed income and asset allocation funds and will eliminate “wrap” management fees on target date funds. Fixed income funds will have a 13 percent to 34 percent reduction, and asset allocation funds a 10 percent reduction.

Putnam also plans to tie performance-based fees to U.S. growth funds, international funds and Putnam Global Equity Funds. The company says these fees will go down from the standard should they underperform their benchmarks and will rise if they outperform.

Changes to fee structure and new management contracts are pending shareholder approval, the company said.

Asset-level discounts will also be linked to the fund family’s overall growth, rather than to the growth of a single fund. Every dollar invested in a Putnam mutual fund essentially benefits all Putnam mutual fund shareholders under this model, a Putnam statement released Tuesday said.

“We think the marketplace will welcome these changes as fresh evidence of our commitment to provide shareholders with strong, sustained investment results at competitively priced levels,” said Putnam’s president and CEO Robert L. Reynolds

Reynolds, a former Fidelity Investments executive, took over the position last year. He told Reuters Tuesday he believes fees have been too high at Putnam, and “we needed to get it way down.”

The reduction will make Putnam one of the less expensive fund firms, putting its fees in the bottom quartile instead of the bottom half, Reynolds told Reuters.

“This is helpful to Putnam’s cause,” Jonathan Rahbar, a fund analyst with Morningstar Inc. told Bloomberg Tuesday. “There is a push to make a leap into the competitive space of a Fidelity or a Vanguard.”


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