NEW YORK - Few mutual fund companies are using e-mail to communicate directly with their shareholders, executives said at a conference here recently. Furthermore, less than half are taking advantage of e-mail or their Internet sites to post unwieldy compliance documents. The failure to do so represents a valuable lost opportunity, the executives said.

"E-mail is a beautiful, zero-cost channel that exists to communicate with our investors and build a rapport with them," said Steve Dunlap, vice president of CDA/Wiesenberger, a mutual fund tracking firm in Rockville, Maryland, that is owned by Thomson Financial Services. Thomson also owns Securities Data Publishing, the publisher of this newsletter.

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