PHOENIX - Mutual fund fees and expenses are too high, their trustees are asleep at the switch, competition from alternative investments is bearing down, and the money management industry, by and large, has failed the everyday investor.

A starkly pessimistic assessment to be sure, admitted Investment Company Institute Chief Economist Brian Reid. But it's one that exists in many circles, and at the Investment Company Intstitute's 2006 Mutual Funds and Investment Management Conference last week, that argument served as the basis for a lively discussion on the health of the industry.

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