One notable component of the expense ratio of U.S. funds is the "12b-1 fee", which represents expenses used for advertising and promotion of the fund. 12b-1 fees are generally limited to a maximum of 1.00% per year (.75% distribution and .25% shareholder servicing) under NASD Rules.
Back in the early days of the mutual fund business, the 12b-1 fee was thought to help investors. It was believed that by marketing a mutual fund, its assets would increase and management could lower expenses because of economies of scale. This has yet to be proved. With mutual fund assets passing the $10 trillion mark and growing steadily, critics of this fee, which today is mainly used to reward intermediaries for selling a fund's shares, are seriously questioning the justification for using it. As a commission paid to salespersons, it is currently believed to do nothing to enhance the performance of a fund.