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hello everyone!

i have a rookie concern. well, here goes....

my employer (a major automobile insurance company that is not publicly traded) has for years offered it's employees a small suite of mutual funds with very low expense ratios and very low initial/subsequent purchase requirements (currently $250/$50). the funds are only available to employees and family members.

now my employer has decided to offer a separate suite of funds to the general public. these 10 or so funds have only been around for about 2 months (inception in december of 2000).

among these new funds, there are a couple of international (foreign) funds that i have interest in with nav's around $9/share. i would normally jump at one of the funds, because it would be a perfect fit to my "portfolio in progress".

here's the problem: the funds have 12b1 fees, front-end and back-end loads and a noticeable service fee, (actually one has the front-end load and the other has the back-end load). because i'm an employee, i think i can avoid the loads as i may qualify for a waiver. however, i still have a problem with the 12b1 fees and the overall expense ratio of 1.8% or so.

the initial investment minimum is $250 and subsequent buys are a $50 minimum. i plan to hold the fund shares for years to come as i'm 30+ years from conventional retirement age (ok, i'm 33). after 7 years or so, i think the back-end load disappears on the one fund.

just so you all know, my employer is state farm and the subject funds are SFFAX and SFFBX (additional info at statefarm.com). my questions/concerns:

-do funds usually start out with such fees?
-is it unrealistic for me to think that over 10 yrs
or so that these funds will eventually drop these
ugly fees and look more desireable like the "employee
only" funds?
-or, am i fooling myself and should i continue my
search for an international fund to compliment my
portfolio?

as you can probably tell, i have a strong allegiance to my company and couldn't imagine that they would offer funds with loads and 12b1 fees for any substantial amount of time. i would appreciate any comments.

thanks,

a fool trying to become a Fool.
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