First Union Corp. has hired its first sales manager dedicated to boosting the banking company's Evergreen Funds through brokerage firms and financial planners nationwide.
Michael Treske joined the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking company's Evergreen Investment Services unit last Thursday.
Mr. Treske, a former sales manager with Fidelity Investors' Advisor Funds, will report to William M. Ennis, the unit's president.
First Union is one of a handful of big banking companies, including Wells Fargo & Co. and Chase Manhattan Corp., that market their proprietary funds outside their branch networks.
But unlike these other banks, First Union's funds already had a sizable following - the banking company acquired the Evergreen name and about half the fund family's $11 billion of assets in 1994.
First Union already has 540 sales agreements signed with big brokerages, including Merrill Lynch & Co. and PaineWebber, and such regional players as Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp. But nonbank broker-dealers now represent only 15% of all Evergreen Fund sales.
"We would like to see our outside sales of Evergreen represent about 60% of our total sales in the near future," Mr. Ennis said.
He expects First Union to sell about $80 million of the Evergreen Funds through broker-dealers this year, but Mr. Ennis wouldn't disclose the fund family's overall sales projections.
The company's first priority, he said, is searching out and hiring 10 new salespeople in the next four months to drum up business from its existing brokerage partners. Right now, First Union has only one salesman based in Florida.
Observers suggest that First Union will need to double its planned sales force to attract new business from the broker-dealer community nationwide.
"Groups like Wells and Chase got in relatively early in the game, when the competition wasn't as stiff," said C.R. Shaw, a consultant with the Optima Group, Fairfield, Conn. "First Union is walking in with a vast number of players now."
Last month, PNC Bank Corp. launched a similar strategy to push its propriety funds, and industry experts expect other banking companies to follow suit.
In a recent survey of 90 nonbank brokerage chiefs, Optima found that 60% said their firms would be interested in selling bank-run mutual funds - provided they were highly rated.