Within a Chicago suburban strip mall in Northbrook, Ill., nestled among the typical fast food, drug store and dry cleaning storefronts, is an unusual newcomer, The Mutual Fund Store.

This office is one of a dozen of mutual-fund-only, predominantly franchise-operated, fee-based financial planning outlets -- the brainchild of 40-year-old Adam Bold. Bold, a former registered rep with a major brokerage firm, founded the venture in the basement of his home in Overland Park, Kan., and now serves as the chief investment officer and spiritual leader for all of the offices. He calls the shots when it comes to recommending asset allocations and individual mutual funds for investors.

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