Funds sold through intermediaries are beginning to provide shareholders with access to their accounts through the Internet. Some investors can even buy and sell funds on the web without the help of their brokers.

But, it can be a dual-edged sword for the fund companies because the fund companies do not know all of their investors. Large wirehouses like Merrill Lynch & Co. of New York keep the funds they buy in large omnibus accounts for which they do their own record-keeping.

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