Fidelity Investments has a new marketing program designed to encourage more financial services companies to sell its funds.
But the BusinessPulse program does not just push the Boston company's funds. Instead it gives the roughly 4,100 companies that sell Fidelity's funds educational materials and marketing support designed to increase their overall business.
The materials include a quarterly magazine with sales strategies, fund updates, and seminar kits. Fidelity expects to add up to 20,000 individual investment advisers a year through the program.
Because of recent consolidation in the financial services industry - particularly among banks, which account for 3,000 of Fidelity's intermediary relationships - clients have been pruning their short lists of funds, said Daniel T. Geraci, executive vice president of distribution and marketing communications at Fidelity Investments Institutional Services Co. That makes it crucial for fund companies to prove their worth, he said.
"Clients don't want the fund of the month," Mr. Geraci said last week in an interview at American Banker's offices.
Most mutual fund companies have similar programs to help brokers build their business. They try to "stay generic with sales ideas and programs because most brokers don't want them to just come in and sell their fund," said Merritt Talbot, president of New Orleans-based Hibernia Corp.'s brokerage arm.
The first topic that BusinessPulse addresses is international investing. Other planned themes, which are to succeed each other every three to four months, include retirement planning, education planning, asset allocation, and estate planning, Mr. Geraci said. Fidelity had $699.15 billion of long- and short-term mutual fund assets under management on Sept. 30, according to Financial Research Corp. of Boston.
The fund company's financial institutions division had $12.3 billion of net sales last year and expects to beat that in 1999, a spokesman said. It does not break out its sales through banks, but the spokesman said he expected volume to double this year.