Computer equipment and telephone lines don't fall within a reasonable definition of brokerage and research services that investment managers may charge to their clients, according to proposed guidance issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on the use of "soft dollars." In its interpretation, the regulator said that investment managers are making clients pay for "services and products that are only remotely connected to the investment decision-making process."

"Soft dollars" are a portion of commissions that clients pay their investment advisors to help fund research.

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