The emergence of mutual fund supermarkets. The push for plain-English disclosure of investment risks. The growing role of banks as sellers and managers of mutual funds. These are some of the forces that are complicating the jobs of independent mutual fund directors, the board members whose role it is to serve as advocates for investors.

Heavy hitters from the securities world flocked to Washington last week to discuss these and other issues at a two-day roundtable sponsored by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Here are some highlights from their remarks.

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