At NICSA's annual conference in sunny Hollywood, Fla., last week, George Batejan, global head of technology and operations at Janus Capital Group, told a packed room that mutual fund managers will be increasingly going through intermediary channels as opposed to through direct channels.

The comment - while not a breakthrough insight in fund servicing, as intermediaries have flourished for the past decade or so - reflects product proliferation and a booming number of intermediaries (all eager for a piece of the pie) between the actual product and the investor. A need for fund managers to be more "client-centric" was repeated at NICSA, but what is the cost of more and more intermediaries for investors, and are those wirehouses, regional and independent broker-dealers, retirement plan providers and others actually acting in the investor's best interest?

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