Accountants, sometimes maligned as trustworthy and deliberate to the point of dullness, are developing as the hottest new distribution channel for mutual funds.

Mutual fund companies and broker/dealers want to link up with accountants-turned-financial advisers who are selling or recommending stocks and mutual funds. The push comes as retail investors increasingly seek advice. At the same time, regulatory restrictions, which largely prohibited accountants from receiving commissions and referral fees from client transactions, are eroding.

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