Bennington Capital Management, the Seattle mutual fund company that sells mostly through small-bank trust departments, has broken the $1 billion mark in assets under management.

The company announced last week that it had attracted $300 million of new assets into its funds so far this year, a 52% increase from the year earlier.

Assets under management in the company's Accessor family of funds now total $1.1 billion, said J. Anthony Whatley, chief executive officer.

Mr. Whatley credited the growth to the eight funds' performance, his company's asset allocation software program, and its cobranding strategy.

Another factor is an incentive program built around a new share class that Bennington rolled out in June. Under the program, the fund company handles the task of charging investors for administration and record keeping so that the banks, brokerages, and financial planners who sell the funds do not have to do it.

Under the share structure, Bennington pays up to 0.5% of assets under management to distributors that handle administrative services and record keeping.

The six-year-old company has added 35 distribution partners this year. It now has 120 in all, including 45 banks.

One of the company's recent successes was with First Interstate Bank of Montana, which began offering Accessor Funds in February and saw volume pick up in recent weeks, Mr. Whatley said.

Bennington, which is one-quarter-owned by Zions First National Bank of Salt Lake City has been broadening its distribution channels.

At midyear, bank trust departments accounted for virtually all its business.

Banks now account for 75% of its assets under management, with 90% of that through trust departments.

But Bennington has also gained business through regional brokerages and financial planners.

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