For nearly three years, bank-based brokers have heard a steady drumbeat of warnings about the need to explain mutual fund risks to consumers. Regulators, lawmakers, investors, and banks themselves joined the chorus.

So when a survey was released this week concluding that bank brokers are getting worse at disclosing risks and evaluating customers' needs, bankers were floored. They winced, they worried, and they quickly pointed fingers at the hordes of brokers hired at banks in recent years.

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