In a blow to Signet Banking Corp's. retail mutual fund effort, Michael Freedman, the marketing maven behind its Blanchard funds, has left the company.

Mr. Freedman, who founded the funds in 1986 and sold them to Signet last year, is widely respected as a fund marketing visionary. Without brokers or mass-market advertising, Mr. Freedman used direct mail to build an 11-fund family that at its peak in 1992 had almost $2 billion in assets.

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