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Advisor Fees and Mutual Fund Expenses - Doug's Quiz Corner

Posted by Doug Hutchinson | CFA®, Director of Research and Trading
September 16, 2015

Dougs_Quiz_Corner-500091-editedQuizmaster Doug Hutchinson has come up with another great quiz that explores advisor fees and mutual fund expenses to consider when choosing an advisor. Let’s see what the math has to say.

Good luck!

Consider the following scenario:

Sam, Frank, and Kathy use different financial advisors. Each financial advisor has a different fee structure.

Sam pays a flat fee of 1% to his advisor. There are no other fees associated with his account.

Frank pays his advisor a fee of 0.9%. The advisor invests Frank's assets in a mutual fund with an expense ratio of 1.6%.

Kathy pays her advisor a flat fee of 0.75%. Her advisor invests Kathy's assets in a mutual fund with an expense ratio of 1.25%. 


  • An annual return of 7% (before fees and expense ratios are taken into consideration) per year for each of the next 3 years for Sam, Frank, and Kathy.
  • Sam, Frank, and Kathy start Year 1 with $100,000. 
  • Fees are deducted directly from each account.
  • Advisor fees are charged annually and are applied after mutual fund expenses are taken into consideration. 

After 3 years what will be the value of each of their accounts after all fees and expenses have been taken into consideration?

Solution: For each year - multiply the starting value by 1.07 to capture the return and then multiply that number by 1 less the fee amount to capture the effect of fees.


Sam's fee is straightforward at 1%. 

Year 1: $100,000 x 1.07 x 0.99 = $105,930

Year 2: $105,930 x 1.07 x 0.99 = $112,211

Year 3: $112,211 x 1.07 x 0.99 = $118,865


Frank's mutual fund has an expense ratio of 1.60% and he would then pay his advisor 0.9% of the value of his mutual fund (net of expenses) annually.

Year 1: $100,000 x 1.07 x 0.984 x 0.991= $104,340

Year 2: $104,340 x 1.07 x 0.984 x 0.991 = $108,869

Year 3: $108,869 x 1.07 x 0.984 x 0.991 = $113,594


Kathy's mutual fund has an expense ratio of 1.25% and she would then pay her advisor 0.75% of the value of her mutual fund (net of expenses) annually.

Year 1: $100,000 x 1.07 x0.9875 x 0.9925 = $104,870

Year 2: $104,870 x 1.07 x 0.9875 x 0.9925 = $109,977

Year 3: $109,977 x 1.07 x 0.9875 x 0.9925 = $115,333

The extra layers of expenses and fees that Frank and Kathy are paying through their mutual funds have proven to be extremely costly. After 3 years Frank has accumulated $5,271 LESS than Sam. After 3 years Kathy has accumulated $3,532 LESS than Sam.

* Note that this difference in wealth accumulation compounds over time. After 10 years of annual returns at 7% and the same fee structure as above, Sam will have accumulated about $25,000 MORE than Frank and about $17,000 MORE than Kathy.

Check out another quiz from Doug's Quiz Corner!

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This quiz is intended for informational and illustrative purposes only. This material is not intended to be relied on as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The information presented is general information that does not take into account your individual circumstances, financial situation or needs, nor does it present a personalized recommendation to you. The information and opinions contained in this material are derived from sources deemed reliable, are not all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy.

Financial Advisor Fees Doug's Quiz Corner