Over the last number of years, mutual fund transfer agencies and shareholder communications companies have tried to convince shareholders to accept paperless summary prospectuses, proxies, trade confirmations and electronically stamped signatures. Fund supermarkets and web home pages have broadened their horizons to include market commentary, videostreaming and personal financial news.

At the same time, exchange-traded funds, funds-of-funds, hedge FoFs, unified managed accounts, target dates, 401(k) auto enrollment and heightened awareness among people throughout the country of the difficulties of being retired-have taken off.

I would characterize all of the above as Mutual Funds v. 2.0.

What fund leaders need to do now is bring their companies into Mutual Funds v. 3.0, where they link all of a customer's current and future financial considerations together and make it seamlessly, electronically easy for a customer to conduct business.

New York City Transit, for instance, in partnership with MasterCards issued by Citigroup, last week debuted a contactless payment pilot plan.

For the last five years, Chase ATMs have conveniently resided inside the Duane Read drug store chain that populates all of NYC.

Can't bank-owned or affiliated fund companies get products already purchased by customers (therefore, ensuring the investors have received all of the legal documents) on their ATM options menu?

Can't fund companies help their customers data mine their own information-which is the very business model for the successful Mint.com startup?

AARP recently announced it would air segments on living the good life in retirement, on NBC's "Today Show" but it didn't gain any traction. This reopens the window of opportunity. AARP keeps tracking on with marketing innovations, last week unveiling a newly redesigned website, AARP.org, adding personal growth, tech, sex and relationship channels. In June, AARP will supply a free news app for the iPhone and iPad and follow up with more ideas. It is also digitizing its AARP The Magazine and other of its publications on Texterity's platform.

Last year, Putnam Investments CEO Robert Reynolds became the first mutual fund executive to send Twitter messages.

There are now limitless, interesting new ways for companies to compel and speak to their customers.

(c) Copyright 2010 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia Inc. All rights reserved.

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