First Bank System has added five new portfolios, including one that specializes in technology stocks, to its mutual fund family.
In doing so, the Minneapolis-based banking company is making a concerted effort to expand beyond plain-vanilla mutual funds, such as government bond funds and growth and income funds.
By diversifying its First American Investment Funds, First Bank System is signaling its intention to compete with big brokerage houses, said John Murphy, chief investment officer of the company's investment arm, First Asset Management.
"It shows we are a force to be reckoned with," Mr. Murphy said. Customers are learning that they don't have to go outside the bank for a broad range of investment choices, he added.
In addition to the technology fund, First Bank System has introduced an emerging growth fund; an international fund; and insured intermediate tax-free fund for Minnesota; and an intermediate tax-free fund for Colorado.
Fixed-Income Fund Planned
A fixed-income international fund is on the drawing board, said Mr. Murphy, who said he sees the fund as the final ingredient in a totally competitive lineup.
With the new portfolios, First Bank System now manages 17 proprietary mutual funds. Assets total $3.3 billion, and sales are expected to top $400 million this year, Mr. Murphy said.
The technology fund will concentrate in stocks of companies that make semiconductors, personal computers, scientific computers and software, as well as stocks of communications and multimedia companies, according to Gerald Bren, portfolio manager.
Though few banks have launched mutual funds specializing in technology or other narrow sectors of the economy, Mr. Murphy said it is a natural step.
Bank trust departments have a long history as money managers, and many of them manage specialized funds, he said.