Online portfolio products, derided by the Investment Company Institute of Washington D.C. as unregulated mutual funds, got a strong endorsement last week when it was revealed that Fidelity Investments of Boston and Charles Schwab of San Francisco would begin offering the products to investors.

The increased competition by two industry giants will go a long way towards convincing some investors that online portfolios are a viable alternative to mutual funds and not fringe products, said Nancy Smith, a vice president with FOLIO(fn) of Vienna, Va. FOLIO(fn) is one of the largest providers of online portfolios.

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