Although exchange-traded funds will not supplant mutual funds in the near future, they will be the driving force behind industry changes in the next decade, creating opportunities for some firms and threatening others, according to a recent study.

"If a firm looks at itself as only being in the business of managing and/or distributing traditional open-end funds, and does not have a vision for expanding beyond that narrow definition, then the growth of exchange-traded funds is most definitely a threat to their franchise, as is the growth of separate accounts and other vehicles that compete with traditional funds," said the study, conducted by Financial Research Corp. of Boston.

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