Chase Focuses on Mutual Funds

Hires Detmer to Spur Sales Through Outside Brokers

With a whiff of the potential in mutual funds, Chase Manhattan Corp. has hired a seasoned executive to make an all-out run in the business.

James T. Detmer, a distribution manager for 10 years in the New York investment management firm of Lord Abbett & Co., assumes a new post at Chase overseeing mutual fund retail sales. As vice president and national sales manager for the Vista Capital Management Group, he is charged with improving sales through both bank branches and outside broker-dealers.

4.5% Upfront Fee

The appointment is part of a lockstep plan to launch an aggressive retail sales effort, said Kenneth A. Mills, a Chase spokesman.

Earlier this year, Chase added a 4.5% upfront fee, or load, to its Vista bond and equity funds. The fees make the funds more lucrative for brokers.

In addition, Chase has beefed up the sales force in its branches. GNA Securities of Seattle now has 130 representatives covering 300 Chase branches.

But GNA's brokers market a wide range of funds, including those managed by Chase. Mr. Detmer's challenge is to get the brokers to push the Vista funds aggressively to their customers.

Recruiting Outside Brokers

His other task is to line up outside brokers to sell the funds, a task that should be somewhat easier with the loads. Only two outside broker-dealers now sell the Vista funds, but Mr. Detmer aims to increase that force to 100 by yearend.

The enlistment drive will begin in Philadelphia and Boston, with Mr. Detmer personally taking on the New York market, which he knows well from his days at Lord Abbett.

Chase's move is a bold one, according to Geoffrey Maclay, president of Elan Investment Services, the broker-dealer subsidiary of First Wisconsin National Bank of Milwaukee.

Ahead of the Crowd

While most banks are focusing on internal sales efforts, Chase is ahead of the crowd with its big drive for outside brokers, said Mr. Maclay, who is also president of the Bank Securities Association, a trade group based in Corte Madeira, Calif.

"It begins to look more and more like what a Fidelity or a Kemper are doing," Mr. Maclay said of the Chase effort.

Personal Goal

Mr. Detmer, who is 38, said in a recent interview that his personal goal is to double the $90 million that Chase now has under management in its five Vista bond and equity funds over the next year.

The assignment, he said, is not much different from the marketing job he grabbed in 1975 fresh out of Colgate Universtiy -- selling worsted yarns to sweater and cap manufacturers.

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