As clients have become better informed and sophisticated, so too has the asset management industry, with more demanding gatekeepers, a flood of products, competition and tougher regulation forcing firms to demonstrate value and innovate, industry heads say.

"People that invest with you are not only thinking about what you're doing today, they are comfortable that down the road, you're going to be there also," Robert Reynolds, president and CEO of Putnam Investments, told the audience at FundForum USA 2014 in Boston last week.

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