My brokerage charges me a fee to hold ADRs; this fee is deducted anytime the ADRs pay dividends. I'm told that this is a standard fee and could not be negotiated.
Is this fee truly carved in stone, or do some brokerages charge different fees (or none at all) to hold ADRs?
Just to clarify, this is not the foreign tax on dividends, but the custodian fee. I've found some more information at http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/m/q207/adr.html:
If you are an ADR investor, you may already know that banks that custody ADRs (ADR agents) are allowed to charge custody fees. The amount and timing of custody fees are detailed in your ADR prospectus.
In the past, ADR agents could collect custody fees only when they were able to subtract them from ADR dividends. Since many ADRs do not pay regular dividends, agents were often unable to collect their fees.
Last year, the Depository Trust Company (DTC) received SEC approval to start collecting custody fees on behalf of ADR agents for ADRs that do not pay periodic dividends.
What I'm unclear about is whether this fee varies among brokerages, and to what extent it may be negotiable.