Fund firms have earned more in fees than investors have gained from the funds themselves in recent years, and investors may choose to invest, instead, in low-fee, exchange-traded funds as an alternative, according to a recent report by

"The benefits that funds used to offer are no longer valid," said Max Rottersman, author of the report, adding that investors can achieve diversification via exchange-traded funds. He also noted that investing in individual stocks may become more appealing since brokerage fees have dropped from several hundred dollars to well below $100 at some discount brokerages.

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