Regardless of the year, the market environment or the mood of investors, performance always plays strongly into driving sales for fund complexes. And that was certainly the case for the firms that dominated four key sales channels last year.

But a number of other factors also boosted sales for those firms, including a strong offering of fixed-income products, a reputation for providing products with low fees and a conservative approach - even among growth products - with a value heavy investment strategy, analysts said.

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