There are two major problems with this thread and most conversations about load vs. no load or active vs. passive investing (2 similar but different subjects).
1)The focus is always on fund performance and not investor performance. No one will argue that one of the big advantages of no load funds is the low expenses. The low expenses and the lack of an advisor cut both ways. Investor psychology gets in the way of good investor performance. The typical investor does not "stay the course". Instead they buy high and sell low and do this over and over again. There are many studies to back this up.
2)Choice of funds is the least important decision that the investor will make, but it is the decision that we all spend our time discussing. Other more important decisions:
How much money needs to be invested on a monthly basis to achieve the goals?
How should this money be allocated in broad terms between IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k), individual accounts, joint accounts, UGMA/UTMA, 529 plans, real estate, annuities, life insurance, etc.?
How should accounts be titled (individually owned, joint, trusts, etc)?
How should the investments be allocated between broad investment categories such as stocks vs. bonds, us. vs. foreign, large cap vs. small cap, value vs. growth?
After all of the above decisions are made, it is now time to decide whether, for example, the 14% of your portfolio that is being invested in large cap U.S. funds should be in a S & P 500 indexed fund or ABC mutual fund. This could be the least important investing decision that you will ever make.
The focus is going to continue to be on funds becuase it's more fun, but the studies that I have read all point to actual fund selection accounting for well under 10% of the total return of a portfolio.