Previously home to more rudimentary back-office functions like customer call centers and payroll services, emerging market countries like India and China are playing a greater role on the research side of the money management business.

A number of factors in the U.S. have been driving this recent trend, experts say. Among them are competitive pressures, as the fee war compels mutual fund firms to find business areas where they can save a few bucks; and a stricter regulatory environment, where soft-dollar rules have put the pinch on the free research brokers would kick back to fund firms in exchange for trades.

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