SEC Adopts New Summary Prospectus

November 19, 2008 ( - The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday voted unanimously to improve mutual fund disclosure by requiring that funds provide investors with a concise summary — to appear at the front of a fund's prospectus — of the key information they need to make informed investment decisions.

According to an SEC news release, also approved were amendments to encourage funds to make greater use of the Internet.

Specifically, the Commission adopted amendments to Form N-1A, the registration form for mutual funds, to require that every mutual fund include key information at the front of its statutory prospectus about the fund’s investment objectives and strategies, risks, and costs. The summary will also include brief information regarding investment advisers and portfolio managers, purchase and sale procedures, tax consequences, and financial intermediary compensation, the news release said.

Funds will be required to provide the summary information in plain English and in a standardized order.

In addition, a new rule permits sending a summary prospectus to satisfy prospectus delivery requirements provided that the mutual fund’s summary prospectus, statutory prospectus, and other specified information are available online. The summary prospectus must have the same information in the same order as the summary at the front of the statutory prospectus.

Provisions of this new rule, according to the press release, include:

  • The online materials must be in a user-friendly format that permits investors and other users to move back and forth between the summary prospectus and the statutory prospectus – allowing investors and others to efficiently access particular information that is of interest to them.
  • Investors have to be able to download and retain an electronic version of the information.
  • The statutory prospectus and other information must be provided in paper or by e-mail upon request so investors can choose the format in which they receive more detailed information.

The SEC said it will post the full text of the new disclosure requirements to its Web site as soon as possible.