Bear, Stearns & Co. has hired a Goldman, Sachs & Co. executive to help market its fledgling mutual fund family through broker-dealers and banks.
Barry Sommers, 28, joined Bear Stearns Asset Management this month as managing director and head of marketing and sales for the Bear Stearns Funds.
He was hired to manage a team of wholesalers responsible for marketing the funds to the broker-dealer community as well to banks.
"Bear Stearns has talented money management-side people," said Mr. Sommers. "We'll make them available to the retail broker. The mutual fund companies that do well going forward are going to be the ones that can add value to the retail broker."
Bear Stearns Asset Management manages more than $8 billion of assets, and the Bear Stearns Funds, established two years ago, account for $300 million of that.
The family includes an emerging debt fund, which invests in bonds from countries such as Poland, the Philippines, Russia, and Panama; and an S&P Stars portfolio that uses research provided by Standard & Poor's. Mr. Sommers said the S&P fund is the only one of its kind.
Mr. Sommers said that Bear Stearns won't begin selling through banks right away, but it clearly has banks in its sights. In that market, the firm faces stiff competition.
"It's a very crowded field right now," said Kenneth Kehrer, a consultant in Princeton, N.J. "It really requires expertise and familiarity with the bank channel to be able to (get banks to buy in)."
The field is dominated by large fund companies like Fidelity Investments, Putnam Investments, OppenheimerFunds, and Zurich Kemper Investments, but one bank broker-dealer said there's room for another player, even one not known for being a leader in the mutual fund market.
"I think Bear Stearns has a good reputation," said Curt Anderson, chief executive officer and president of First Busey Securities, Urbana, Ill. "There's still room, if they devote the personnel to really servicing their accounts."
Mr. Sommers went to Bear Stearns after two years with Goldman, where he was a vice president in mutual funds sales, responsible for building the sales force, signing dealer agreements, and selling top accounts in the Northeast.
Before that, for three years, he was a vice president at Putnam Investments, responsible for variable annuity sales.
Mr. Sommers said he plans to increase the sales force, hire key account people, and add unique products to the company's mutual fund family.