Mutual fund portfolio managers used to be as inaccessible as the Wizard of Oz.Fund companies for the most part hid their ideas and activities behind a wall of wholesalers and scripted messages on brochures. When Morningstar began trying to contact portfolio managers in the late 1980s, their analysts often were greeted with phone hang-ups.

Nevertheless, many of the larger advisors demanded more direct access. Today, some of the fund families managing the $8.5 trillion in mutual fund assets see direct contact with independent advisors not only as a smart marketing strategy, but as an integral piece of their company's business model.

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