Mutual Fund Fees Get Scathing TV Review from John Oliver

John Oliver
John Oliver

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In the show (see video), Oliver created a 401(k) for his show’s employees.  The show’s producer chose John Hancock as the plan provider, who charged an asset management fees of 1.69%, on top of a $24 per-person annual fee and other fund fees.

In addition, Hancock an unnamed intermediary broker (who told Oliver’s team he was not a fiduciary, i.e. required to work in their best interest) would receive 1% the first year and 0.50 percent for the duration of the plan’s existence.  In the video, Oliver said his reporters analyzed the fees and  concluded that they were excessive, plus they objected to the non-fiduciary role the advising broker played.

The video is comic Oliver, complete with some input from Suzy Orman who criticized a broker for offering an annuity to an unsuspecting new client.

Suze Orman
Suze Orman

As for John Hancock, Oliver said the show is covering the fees for its employees. Plus, they  dumped John Hancock and the broker.

The take away for financial professionals is that when this type of scathing review og fees and the lack of a fiduciary standard reaches a popular cable show, you can assume he problems are well know to the mass audience.

Given the recent polls that show a majority of Americans distrust the election system, don’t trust Wall Street, and are uncomfortable about their retirement futures, astute financial professionals should realize they have to adopt some very new transparent presentations if they want to attract business from Millennials to Baby Boomers.

It looks like Wall Street will change significantly in the next few years, whether it wants to or not.




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Chuck Epstein has managed marketing communications and public relations departments for major global financial institutions and participated in the launch of industry-changing financial products. He also has written by-lined articles for over 50 publications, five books and served as editor and publisher of nation’s first newsletter on the topic of using the PC for personal investing and trading. (“Investing Online, 1994-1999). He also is a marketing consultant, writer and speaker on topics related to investor protection and opportunities in the very dynamic cannabis industry. He has held senior-level marketing, PR and communications positions at the New York Futures Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Lind-Waldock, Zacks Investment Research, Russell Investments and Principal Financial. He has won national awards from the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) and his web site,, was named best small blog in 2009 by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).


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