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Sunday, January 24, 2010

SOUND OFF: LESS PAPER IN MUTUAL INTEREST?

Of the readers who responded to an unscientific poll on my column's blog, 52 percent said that it was right for the Securities and Exchange Commission to continue to require mutual-fund companies to regularly send paper copies of prospectuses to investors in their funds, while 48 percent said that it was wrong if, as is generally the case, few investors actually read them.

"It is a mutual-fund company's responsibility to provide financial details in prospectuses," writes Jennie of Boston, "regardless of how many investors actually pay attention to them."

Susan H. observes that she "has received the half-inch-or-more-thick documents and allowed them to pile up without reading them," but still believes that "summaries of prospectuses should not be considered wasteful. It is in the court of the investor to decide if he wants to read them or not, but the companies should continue to provide them."

"E-mail is the way to go," another reader writes. "This huge bound book that I receive is not being utilized for the energy that it took to produce it ... Let's push this to eventually being paperless."

Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of http://www.jeffreyseglin.com, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 630 Eighth Ave., 5th floor, New York, N.Y. 10018.

c.2010 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

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