Getting high fund rankings from independent firms like Morningstar is always important for fund marketers. But with equity performance down virtually across the board, fund companies have shied away from promoting individual products. As a result, portfolio manager ranking has taken on a greater focus.

It's not easy promoting a fund's performance if it has a low yield, even if it is good relative to its benchmark and/or peers. Over the past year, leading equity funds have had best-of-the-worst type yields, and even negative yields in some cases. Firms can highlight the relative' success of their funds, but slightly beating an index that has tanked is not terribly sexy for investors, according to industry observers. Promoting portfolio managers, however, is a way of ultimately bragging about performance without having to admit actual numbers.

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