Credit Suisse Asset Management LLC, the New York-based unit of Credit Suisse Group of Zurich, is taking aim at Generation X with a tailored mutual fund program.
The SaveMyMoney program offers access to four of Credit Suisse's Warburg Pincus Funds for an initial investment of just $250, plus $50 per month. The funds - three equity portfolios and a money market offering - usually require minimum investments of $1,000 to $2,500. "If we're going to attract new consumers - Generation X-ers - we're going to have to give them the means" to invest, said Eugene Podsiadlo, president of the Warburg Pincus Funds. "Most of them don't have $5,000 to open an account."
Credit Suisse plans to attract 18- to 29-year-old investors by linking the SaveMyMoney program to financial and lifestyle-related Internet sites, Mr. Podsiadlo said.
Customers now can download information on the program as well as an application form from the fund group's Web site.
Credit Suisse is not the first banking company to target younger or first-time investors. Several banks and mutual fund companies have come with similar programs. First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., for instance, created a version of its Cap asset management account - which links checking and investments - for first-time investors. Cap First requires a $2,500 initial deposit plus $50 monthly investments, compared with a minimum deposit of $15,000 for the flagship version.
Barclays Group in London offers a linked brokerage and savings account with an initial deposit of about $810 or a pledge to deposit $81 a month. Several mutual fund companies also offer inexpensive investing options. Putnam Investments in Boston waives minimum balances in its funds for investors who commit themselves to depositing $25 a month.
But for the most part, banking companies have been neglecting the 20-something set because they are too busy concentrating on older investors with money, the so-called baby boom and silent generations, consultants said.
"It's clearly an interesting market," said Geoffrey H. Bobroff, a mutual fund consultant in East Greenwich, R.I. Fund companies "have penetrated the majority of households that have money," he said. "If they can penetrate households that will have money eventually, it's worth the wait."
SaveMyMoney accounts will generate revenues in the short term, Mr. Podsiadlo said, because of a deal with the fund group's transfer agent, the investment-servicing arm of Boston-based State Street Corp.
Rather than charging its usual flat servicing fee, State Street plans to charge a certain number of basis points on account balances opened through SaveMyMoney.
"If this were totally a 10-year plan," it might not be worth it, Mr. Podsiadlo said. "But since these are existing funds, any marginal asset increase is a good thing."
Credit Suisse Group has more than $600 billion of assets under management. The Warburg Pincus fund family comprises 35 retail mutual funds and manages more than $12 billion of assets.