If a mutual fund's published YTD return is 3%, and it has an up-front sales charge of 5% and a 12b1 fee of 2%, are these fees included in the YTD return, or would the "real" return be 3%-5%-2% = -4%?
Generally the sales load are amortized over a period of time. The upfront sales load is taken out of the investment value. Hence quite a few Mutual funds the real return is not fully known unless one explicitly calculates the amount paid and the amount received as there are load at times of investment or at time of sale. More about various fees here.
Fees are one of the main reasons few funds can consistently beat the market. That said fund return is an advertising gimmick...almost none of them state return rate after fees.