A recent agreement struck between "Big Five" accounting firm Deloitte & Touche and the SEC has captured the attention of both the accounting and mutual fund industries. At issue is just how far removed members of an accounting firm chosen to audit specific mutual funds must be to protect objectivity and maintain true independence.

In a March 8th letter addressed to Lynn Turner, chief accountant at the SEC, Deloitte mapped out plans to further distance itself from Fidelity's mutual funds before it becomes a Fidelity fund auditor. Fidelity recently selected Deloitte & Touche to audit 56 of its 243 mutual funds. Since 1990, Deloitte & Touche has served as the independent auditor for both Fidelity Brokerage Services and National Financial Services Corp., a Fidelity subsidiary.

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