Newly minted Securities and Exchange Commission General Counsel Brain Cartwright told the Mutual Fund Directors Forum that going forward, independent directors would serve as the centerpiece of the mutual fund regulatory regime.

"As independent directors, you are the arbiters of fairness," Cartwright said. He added that since they come from varied backgrounds and bring many different skills to bear, the industry's independent directors would be a vital link between the SEC and fund shareholders, particularly on the topic of disclosure.

"You can provide a fresh and insightful view on what investors need to make the most informed investment decisions," he said. "We are sincerely interested in your viewpoints."

Cartwright also reiterated the SEC's desire to use mutual funds as a test-bed for its experiment in Extensible Business Reporting Language. Commonly known as XBRL, the SEC thinks the data-tagging tool would "democratize" financial information and analysis by making it easier for investors to compare fund performance numbers in an apples-to-apples format online.

(c) 2006 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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