Two Citigroup units, Citicorp Investment Services and Primerica Financial Services, will soon adopt a unified list of preferred mutual fund providers comprising just half a dozen fund families.
Mutual fund company executives, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a list of five or six fund providers - including the bank's proprietary fund family - is expected to be adopted in several days.
The list is strikingly short; most bank brokerages' preferred provider lists have a dozen or so vendors. In exchange for inclusion on the list-and presumably more sales-fund companies would have to agree to give the distributors a bigger cut of profits, the executives said.
A spokesman for New York-based Citigroup would confirm only that the sales units, which came under the same corporate umbrella in the Citicorp- Travelers merger, "currently have our mutual fund offerings under review." And he said the number of funds available would not be reduced.
Many funds not on the A-list could remain available under the expected format. Brokerages typically have a short list of fund vendors whose wholesalers are allowed free access to the sales representatives and whose products are sold most vigorously.
They also have B-lists of funds that are available but not aggressively marketed.
Citicorp Investment Services has about 1,000 brokers, and Primerica has about 100,000 part-time sales representatives who use a door-to-door approach to sell life insurance and mutual funds.
Citicorp's retail brokerage had mutual fund sales of $3 billion in 1997, according to Kenneth Kehrer Associates, a consulting firm in Princeton, N.J. Primerica's mutual fund sales could not be learned.
Executives from Citicorp Investment Services and Primerica have met with executives from several fund companies in recent days to lay out the plan and gauge the vendors' interest, fund company executives said.
The coordination of the Citigroup units' provider lists would come shortly after a similar move by another big distributor, BankAmerica Corp., which acted at the beginning of the year.