The increased prevalence of mutual fund B shares has run headlong into a recent NASD crackdown on inappropriate sales of the share class by brokers. With broker/dealers battening down the hatches and B share flows drying up, many of the firms that have recently launched B shares find themselves in a quandary.

"B shares have tanked totally because of the bad press," said Jill McGruder, president and CEO of Touchstone Securities, Inc., whose firm introduced a B share class earlier this year. "The wirehouses were doing the bulk of the B share business and Prudential and a couple of the firms got their hands slapped so they're being really careful."

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