Financial industry participants and observers now are debating what was once an article of faith: the importance of wirehouses for mutual fund distribution.

No one suggests that large broker/dealers no longer are a key means of selling mutual funds today. But, some financial services industry observers question whether a combination of factors including the rising use of the Internet for investing, the growing popularity of financial planners and a slowdown of proprietary sales at wirehouses are conspiring to erode the importance of large broker/dealers as a mutual fund distribution channel.

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