I remember about lebenty-leben years go I was umpiring a Little League game of 10-year olds. I was standing between first and second base. Having played baseball before at college division 1 level, I knew pretty much how the game was structured and what was required. I just hadn't taken into consideration what these baseball "managers" were teaching these kids.

In particular, the rules said there was no leading off base and no stealing so the runner could only come off the base after the pitch was thrown and of course, certainly when the ball was hit which, if you know 10-year olds, isn't all that often. This one game ended 24-23 after only five innings and 40 of those 47 runs were the result of walks.

In any event, this one team had kids inching off first base before the pitcher even went into a windup. I was constantly telling the kids to get back, to get back. They listened for one pitch and then went right on doing what they had been told.

I finally confronted the manager of the team who told me he was a stockbroker and looked for every edge possible and that's what he was instilling in his charges.

If we bring this little scenario up to date some 30 years later, I find that these former 10-year olds are now in the marketplace and are also angling for every edge, one of them being in fund investing. I can't tell you how many people I know here in America that look constantly overseas for investment purposes, particularly in England, where for some unexplained reason, there is a notion that the Brits are more financial-oriented than we are and know how to make more money.

I went to Lipper Fitzrovia, a fund research group, for some answers and was advised that they had compared annual charges of U.S. fund groups that operate on both sides of the pond, and the results were rather startling.

For one, equity funds in England sport an annual charge plus expenses (known as the total expense ratio or TER) averaging some 1.73 percent. In the U.S., it is 1.24 percent. In fact, for all UK equity funds, the typical TER was around 1.7 percent and in the U.S. around 1 percent. So think about this in dollar terms. If you put, let's say $18,000 into a UK equity fund, you would wind up having some $2,400 deducted over a five-year period in charges. A direct investor in the U.S. would see about $990 in charges. Quite a difference, eh?

Keep in mind that in the UK, these commissions, as we may call them, are already built into the charging structure. Not in the States. Taking it a step further, those people in London investing in UK equities will usually incur a 5 percent up front charge when buying a fund. In the U.S., many funds charge nothing whatsoever. Consider too that in the States, we can choose among thousands of no-load, no-advice funds. You can't do that in London.

Moreover, Lipper Fitzrovia says that investors in other countries all pay less for their funds than the Brits. These include Japan, Germany, and France.

You can easily look to take that extra inch off base as this one kid did time and time again, notwithstanding the warnings. What finally happened? Oh, the catcher who had one of those 1-in-100 cannon-for-an-arm and could reach first base from home plate in four seconds, threw him out. And that catcher today? He's not a stockbroker; he's my CPA.

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