The 5 Best Load Funds for 2012

Great, low-cost funds to ask for if you use a financial adviser. You may also find some of these gems in your 401(k) plan.

The distinction between load and no-load funds shrinks every year. Investors who employ a financial adviser can gain access to many first-class load funds without having to pay the sales charges. So can many 401(k) participants. If you can buy load funds without the loads, you should consider some of them. Of course, advisers don't work for free. Depending on how you compensate yours, you'll either pay sales charges on the funds you buy or a fee that's usually based on the amount of your assets under his or her control.

Below are my favorite funds offered by load-fund sponsors. In each instance, the symbol is for the lowest-cost share available to the typical investor. If your adviser offers you a share class with a higher expense ratio, try persuading him or her to get you into the lower-cost share class. All returns are through January 9.

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Steven Goldberg
Contributing Columnist, Kiplinger.com
Steve has been writing for Kiplinger's for more than 25 years. As an associate editor and then senior associate editor, he covered mutual funds for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine from 1994-2006. He also authored a book, But Which Mutual Funds? In 2006 he joined with Jerry Tweddell, one of his best sources on investing, to form Tweddell Goldberg Investment Management to manage money for individual investors. Steve continues to write a regular column for Kiplinger.com and enjoys hearing investing questions from readers. You can contact Steve at 301.650.6567 or sgoldberg@kiplinger.com.