By adding extra services, besides solid investment products, mutual fund companies that have wholesale distribution arms are trying desperately to attract more assets through the independent adviser market. The strategy seems to be working -- sort of.

According to a Cerulli Associates report, nontraditional sales channels for mutual fund companies -- which includes registered investment advisers, mutual fund wrap programs and 401(k) programs -- account for 32% of fund assets, up from 22% in 1995. In addition, companies that traditionally only used broker-sold products, last year nontraditional sales channels accounted for 18% of total assets, compared with 12% in 1995.

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