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Of course it's no surprise that a full service broker would sell my dad front-loaded high-management-fee mutual funds. The point is my parents had no business in a full service brokers office to begin with. They had no interest in trading in the stock market. But the full service brokers advertise on TV and in newspapers and magazines, so name like EF Hutton, PainWebber, and so forth, become household words. And they almost always have attractive offices.

I'm not suggesting that most brokers are crooks; I am suggesting that there is a mismatch between the needs of many of their clients and the services they offer. Furthermore, I am suggesting that there is not the business ethic among the full service brokers to tell those clients that their interests might be better served elsewhere. If I walk into a criminal law firm with a civil matter, I might expect them to recommend a civil law firm. I do object to full service brokers passing themselves off as "financial advisors" rather than sales representatives.

Anyway, my dad ignored my suggestions that they might be better served by moving their money to no-load index funds at Vanguard, and I sensed resentment whenever I persevered in that argument so I left it alone. Mom is flexible and trusts my judgement -- I hope her trust is not misplaced. Helping a parent is often not easy for either of you.

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