About 420 days ago, the mutual fund scandal burst into the business sections of newspapers across the country and through the offices of fund firms themselves, taking with it, among others, investors’ confidence, executives’ jobs, and the industry’s formerly clean image.

But now, the chairman and chief executive officer of The National Association of Securites Dealers told a forum coordinated by his organization that things are starting to look better.

"I think the worst of it is behind us," Robert Glauber said. "But," he added, "It’s safe to say the financial services industry will be recuperating from this wreck for a long, long time."

Also discussed at the forum was investor confusion over share classes, and ways to rectify the problem. A-share funds usually have high charges at the beginning but lower expenses throughout the life of the investment, while B and C shares work in reverse.

Mary Schapiro, the NASD’s vice chairman and president, said confusion in understanding the differences between those shares, as well as the risks in 529 college plans, are important for investors’ wallets. "Understanding share classes can be tricky, but not understanding them can be expensive," Schapiro said.

Money managers at the forum expressed optimism that 2005 would be a better year than 2004 for the stock markets.

 

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