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Mutual Funds 101

Mutual Fund Fees and Expenses

When you’re considering investing in a mutual fund, one of the most important aspects to consider is how the fund company handles fees and expenses.

These charges—which are ultimately paid for by you, the investor—cover the investment and day-to-day management of the fund as well as transaction activities you may perform. Depending on the fund company’s policies and the structure of the funds themselves, fees and expenses may extend to cover additional costs, like marketing for the funds.

Common Fees and Expenses

The good news is that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires a full disclosure of mutual fund fees and expenses to investors. However, this doesn’t mean that the information is always easy to understand. Here’s a list of the common fees and expenses associated with mutual funds, although not all fees apply to all funds:

  • Fund Operating Expenses
    These expenses are most commonly expressed as a fund’s expense ratio, which is how much a mutual fund charges its shareholders by percentage per year. A good rule of thumb is the lower the ratio, the lower the operating costs passed on to shareholders. The different types of fees included are:
    • Management Fees
      Included are the costs of the day-to-day management of a fund by portfolio managers and research analysts, who monitor and make investment decisions. These fees may vary as some funds are simply more expensive to run due to the nature of the fund’s focus. Generally, it costs more money to research smaller emerging markets stocks than it does to research large U.S. stocks. Stock funds are generally more expensive than bond funds. Actively managed funds are generally more expensive than index funds. 
    • Distribution/12b-1 Fees
      Some funds may have an annual marketing or distribution fee, generally 0.25 to 1 percent (the highest allowed) of the fund’s net assets.
    • Other Expenses
      Fees which cover other costs of operating the fund including fees for legal, accounting, record keeping and other administrative costs. 
  • Sales Loads or Charges
    When you buy mutual fund shares, there’s often a broker or other intermediary parties who help the fund company sell their fund. The sales load (a percentage of the purchase) is how these intermediaries receive compensation. There are two common ways this is done:
    • Front-end Load 
      This sales charge is applied at the time of an initial purchase of mutual fund shares. When a front-end load is paid, the price of purchase (POP) is higher since it reflects the sales charge, so you purchase fewer shares than if you purchased at the net asset value price (NAV). NAV is the price used to value your account, as well as the price used when you sell your shares.
    • Back-end Load 
      This fee is paid when selling shares in a mutual fund within a defined period of time, often five to 10 years. The fee amounts to a percentage of the value of the shares being sold. The fee percentage is highest in the first year and decreases yearly until the specified holding period ends, at which time it drops to zero.

Since these two sales loads are a one-time fee and specific to the size of the purchase, they aren’t reflected in a fund’s expense ratio.

  • Redemption Fees
    Some funds charge a fee for withdrawing money from a mutual fund account within a set number of days of making a purchase. These fees are usually used to discourage shareholders from making too many "round trips" (purchases followed by a redemption) in a short period of time. 
  • Transaction Fees
    Transaction fees are charged by a broker or other intermediary for providing assistance in purchasing or selling shares of a fund. These fees can be charged up-front or on the back-end (i.e., when selling the shares).
  • Small Account Fees
    When the balance of an account falls below a certain level, some funds charge a small account fee to cover the higher costs associated with maintaining small accounts.

What to Expect From Thrivent Mutual Funds

When you choose to invest with Thrivent Mutual Funds, we try to keep the fees and expenses low, and as clear and simple to understand as possible. Here’s a list of the fees and expenses you can expect:

Class S Shares refers to Thrivent Mutual Funds – Class S Shares

Class A Shares refers to Thrivent Mutual Funds – Class A Shares (closed to new investors)

Fee Types

Distribution/12b-1 Fees

  • Class S Shares – None
  • Class A Shares – 0.125%-0.25%1

Net Annual Fund Operating Expenses

  • Class S Shares – 0.38%-1.32%
  • Class A Shares – 0.63%-1.65%
  • Some funds may have expense waivers.  See the appropriate fund detail page or the expense table in the Prospectus for more information.

Redemption Fees

  • All Share Classes - None

Transaction Fees

  • All Share Classes - None

Small Account Fee 

  • All share classes - $12 (If account balance falls below minimum levels. See the prospectus for more details.)

Front-End Charges

  • Class S Shares – None
  • Class A Shares – 0%- 4.50%Note: The more you invest, the lower the sales charge per the breakpoint schedule. For more information on how to reduce sales charges, see Sales Charges.

Back-End Charges

  • Class S Shares - None
  • Class A Shares -If you invest $1,000,000 or more in Class A shares without paying a sales load, and redeem those shares within one year (the "one-year time period"), a deferred back-end sales charge of 1% will apply to the net asset value of those shares, with the net asset value measured at the time of purchase (or sale, if lower).

At Thrivent Mutual Funds, we aim to provide a simple, yet sophisticated way to invest that brings the best possible value to our shareholders. Our team of seasoned experts brings deep expertise and proprietary research to actively managing each fund. When you choose to invest with Thrivent Mutual Funds, you’ll benefit from the expertise of our investment professionals and the convenience and choices we provide to make investing easier.

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1 For a full breakdown of distribution/12b-1 fees and front-end charges for Thrivent Mutual Funds – Class A shares, please see the Prospectus.