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Despite Weakening Flows, B Shares Required

B shares may survive through another distribution phenomenon: Many broker/dealers require that funds have B shares available on their platform, regardless whether they are sold.

"It's not that a broker/dealer wants to sell B shares, but if they look at your menu and they say, Do you have B?' and you say no, then you're off the list. Whether they'll sell B's or not is a whole different issue," said McGruder.

A spokesperson at UBS PaineWebber concurred with McGruder. His firm has such a policy and no plans of altering it in the near future, despite the controversy surrounding the share class. "B shares continue to be part of the portfolio for us. Clients want them," he said, adding, "We have our own policy with respect to amounts that can be sold."

Broker/dealer Raymond James, however, has a very different policy.

"At this point, it's not a concern for us. Most of our business is fee-based anyway, so we do do business with several funds that don't have B shares," said Pamela Drew, research coordinator mutual funds at Raymond James. She went on to explain that B shares do not constitute a deterrent in the selection process, either. "Most of the mutual funds do have B shares, so it's not an excluding factor."