Advisors who scoured the globe for their clients were amply rewarded over the past 10 years. For example, through April 15, China funds returned 14.2% annually over the past five years, the best return of any Morningstar category. Diversified emerging-markets funds were up a more-than respectable 8.5% over the same time frame.

But advisors who may have been lulled into forgetting the risks of international investing were in for a rude awakening the past several months. Conflicts in frontier markets erupted almost daily, soon followed by the horrors of the disasters in Japan.

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