Dreyfus Corp., which for years promoted itself to banks by touting its reputation as a fixed-income giant, is shifting its strategy with the addition of a slew of new stock funds.
As bank brokerage units get older, Dreyfus executives reason, they are getting more sophisticated, emphasizing stock funds to their customers for long-term investments instead of offering bond funds as CD alternatives.
Last year's bond market crash, which hurt Dreyfus and many banks that focused on selling bond funds, highlighted the need to offer stock funds to banks.
"We saw a shift as banks got into equities, but the problem in the past was that Dreyfus as a company was not a strong equity player," said Elie Genadry, president of Dreyfus' institutional services division.
Now that Dreyfus is owned by Mellon Bank Corp., the fund giant is tapping the equity markets expertise of the Pittsburgh banking company's money management subsidiary, Boston Co.
That firm, which is going through a rebuilding phase following a well- publicized defection of top money managers in April, will manage the new portfolios being offered to banks, Mr. Genadry said.
Dreyfus, which manages $68.2 billion in fund assets, began offering three new stock funds to banks in May - Premier Growth Fund, Premier Balanced Fund, and Premier Small Company Fund.
The fund firm plans to roll out seven more by the end of the year, Mr. Genadry said.
The new funds are being added to the Premier Family, 30 portfolios the New York company sells exclusively through banks. They will include growth and income and global investing funds.
The stock funds come at the right time because last year's bond market crash hurt Dreyfus. The fund company saw more than $10 billion of its assets under management go out the door at the end of 1994.
It also lost more than $5 billion of assets in its money market funds, and investors continued redeeming their Dreyfus bond fund shares up until May of this year, Mr. Genadry said.
Dreyfus as a policy does not reveal how much banks contribute to the company's bottom line, but Mr. Genadry said that banks are accounting for 40% of the sales of Dreyfus' load funds, mostly because of the new stock funds.
Even as Dreyfus benefits from equity funds, and even as the bond market has recovered, the company still has obstacles to overcome.
The main problem is that Dreyfus is owned by Mellon, making its bank clients skittish about giving away assets to a competitor. When the two companies completed their deal last August, Chemical Banking Corp. immediately cut Dreyfus off its preferred list of fund companies, Mr. Genadrie said.
Days later the bank called itself "overzealous," and put Dreyfus back on its list. Recently, it kicked the company off again. But Mr. Genadry swears he's close to getting the fund company back on the bank's list.
Mr. Genadry said nine banks have dropped the fund company from their list of preferred funds since August. But Dreyfus has acquired nine new banking clients during the same time frame, including Chase Manhattan Corp. He attributes that success to the fund giant's name recognition, which draws customers to bank brokerage units.