Just a few years ago, most banks were feisty newcomers on the mutual fund scene. Today, many are old hands at marketing and managing mutual funds. Indeed, more than 2,500 banks are now selling the investments.

As banks accumulate experience in the mutual fund business, they are becoming savvier about where their strengths lie. Increasingly, they're focusing on funds as a vehicle for retirement savings - particularly the corporate-sponsored savings plans known as 401(k)s.

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