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Finance Glossary

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Contingent Deferred Sales Charge


When you buy any flavor of mutual funds, you're paying fees that go to your broker. How you pay these fees (which are called "loads") depends on the type of mutual fund you have. A-shares have a front-end load, meaning you pay your fees (around 8%) to the selling broker when you buy—it's very thoughtfully added to the price right then.

B-shares are marketed with the lure that there's potentially no load, but if you sell early, the sales charge applies then (on the "back end," as the finance types like to say). B-shares basically require you to hold onto the shares for a minimum period or you get dinged with a fee. This extra fee is called the contingent deferred sales charge. How much is it exactly? It depends on when you sell. The earlier you sell, the more you pay.

The SEC has really clamped down on contingent deferred sales charges in recent years because most mutual fund investors hold shares for a period less than the CDSC (minimum) period and the regulators thought that to be unfair and abusive. After the CDSC period has passed, B-shares just convert to being A-Shares—"no load," but there's no further sales charge.