A study by Boston-based research company Dalbar Inc. has found that though investors hate to pay loads on their mutual funds, they still want help from an investment adviser.

Only 4% of the 4,013 investors polled by the company said they prefer to pay a broker a load, or up-front sales charge, on a mutual fund. By contrast, 70% said they preferred paying a flat fee or a charge based on assets under management.

Dalbar's president, Louis Harvey, is suggesting that fund companies offer investors a dual payment plan, with a single fee based on the complexity of an investor's financial situation and an asset-based fee for continuous service.

The study is the fifth of nine that Dalbar is conducting to learn how investors want to receive advice from brokers. Founded in 1976, Dalbar specializes in measuring the effectiveness of services provided by financial services companies.

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