When investors come to FutureAdvisor, an online financial advisor that offers a free fee-evaluation service, their biggest surprise is not how much they're paying in fees—it's that they're paying fees at all.
Despite decades of work by regulators pushing greater disclosure of fees on mutual funds, most investors remain blissfully unaware that they are paying hundreds, if not more than $1,000, in investment fees each year.
"People think because there's not a number, like the one above the button on Amazon.com, that they're not paying anything," said FutureAdvisor CEO Bo Lu. "Just because it's not above the button doesn't mean you're not paying it."
(Read more: Clueless investors blindly pay fees)
A typical American fund-holding household, with $120,000 in mutual fund assets, paid $873 annually in ongoing fees for its mutual funds in 2012, the latest year available, based on an analysis by Lipper.