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27 February 2018 Financial Analysts Journal

The End of “Soft Dollars”?

  1. John C. Bogle

Over the past few decades, mutual fund shareholders have paid to brokerage and investment banking firms billions of dollars in so-called soft-dollar commissions that have far exceeded the costs of executing the transactions. Over the years, the U.S. SEC’s inconsistent interpretations of pertinent sections of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 have generally allowed the continued use of soft dollars for the payment of not only brokerage commissions but also research products and services. This article discusses the history of the practice and suggests two approaches that may hasten the end of the era of soft dollars: client commission-sharing arrangements and paying for research directly in cash.

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