SEC Proposes Making Mutual Fund Comparisons Easier

The SEC proposed a rule requiring mutual funds to label their public files in order to enable investor comparison shopping.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a rule that mutual fund investors get access to key information about fees, performance, and strategies through interactive data, according to an SEC press release. The proposal would permit comparison shopping among more than 8,000 funds via online searching.

“This exciting new technology will enable investors to instantly analyze and compare not just two or three mutual funds, but hundreds or even thousands, and to quickly focus on the particular funds that are right for them,” said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, in the news release. “Investors will no longer need to wade through lengthy documents to find the relevant details needed to compare funds one at a time.”

Mutual funds have already been voluntarily submitting information to the SEC in interactive data format, the SEC said. The new rule proposal, voted unanimously by the SEC, would require all mutual funds to provide data-tagged information beginning with registration statement filings that become effective after Dec. 31, 2009. The mutual fund also would be required to post the data on its Web site, if it has one.

The interactive mutual fund data can be test driven at the Mutual Fund Reader on the SEC Web site.

Last week, the SEC proposed a similar rule to require public companies to provide financial information using interactive data beginning next year for the largest companies and within three years for all public companies, the SEC said.

The SEC is accepting public comment on the proposal until August 1.