Mutual fund investors had some good news and some bad news to mull over yesterday. While Janus Capital Group (NYSE:JNS) and Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN) each reported a dip in assets under management for the month of March, the declines weren't as steep as those suffered by the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite.

Then again, if you figured that the usually sleepy month of March would have prompted some last-minute tax planners to fund their retirement accounts -- enough to create a respectable inflow of new money into the fund families -- it just didn't happen.

This doesn't mean that the mutual fund industry is struggling. Shares of Franklin Resources, Eaton Vance (NYSE:EV), and T. Rowe Price (NASDAQ:TROW) are all trading higher than they were a year ago. Janus hasn't fared so well, but that is largely the result of the company still paying for some of its fund managing improprieties. While the company reached a financial settlement over a year ago, it is still tackling that public relations fiasco, as the fund family suffered $0.6 billion in net outflows last month.

In what Janus hopes will be the last chapter of this very ugly story, ING (NYSE:ING) will be pulling the last of its managed investments from Janus -- $2.2 billion or nearly 2% of Janus' assets under management -- this month.

I think that's when the skies will start to clear for Janus. Granted, I may have been premature when I was ready to forgive Janus this past summer. Part of the settlement involves lowering its management fees, and with its fund managers being watched as closely as ever these days, I wouldn't mind buying into a Janus mutual fund right now.

Then again, I'm not as picky as Shannon Zimmerman. He is brutally selective in singling out only the best mutual funds in his Champion Funds newsletter service. The number of Janus funds that he has recommended over the past year? Nil, buddy.

Yet with so many worthy mutual funds out there providing dynamic investing opportunities, even a true stock investor may want to consider some of the unique fund alternatives out there.

Don't worry, Janus, your inflows are bound to improve -- perhaps as early as next month.

Some more mutual fun with mutual funds:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz believes that mutual funds are an important part of any stock portfolio. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.