In their bid to win banks' business, more and more mutual fund companies are creating newsletters especially for brokers based in banks.
While most major mutual fund companies produce newsletters for brokers who sell their funds, publishing a separate newsletter for bank-based brokers is a relatively new twist.
Fidelity Investments and Keystone Group Inc., for example, both introduced newsletters geared specifically for banks this summer.
Other companies, such as Colonial Mutual Funds which has had a newsletter for brokers based in banks for four years, ask their wholesalers who market mutual funds to banks to mail out informal newsletters to brokers in their territories.
Bankers say they appreciate the personal attention and find the targeted newsletters more useful than the publications mailed to all brokers.
Newsletters are a "valuable sales tool," said Joseph Uccello, sales chief for Bank of Boston in Connecticut. And those targeted to banks "focus on the needs of the banks' customers, and that is helpful for me," Mr. Uccello said.
Producing a separate newsletter for brokers who sell to bank customers is "money well spent," agreed R. Gregory Knopf, vice president in charge of mutual fund sales at Union Bank of Los Angeles.
That is what companies like Colonial, Fidelity, and Keystone are counting on when they decided to publish newsletters for their bank clients.
Although Fidelity had a "Mutual Fund Guide" that included rankings, charts and commentary, as well as a listing of more than 160 Fidelity Funds, the mutual fund giant had little information on its Advisor Fund family, which is distributed through banks and other financial intermediaries.
"Banks wanted more information on the Advisor Funds," a spokeswoman for Fidelity said.
In July, the company launched "Fidelity Advisor Fund Guide," a 36-page, monthly booklet with feature articles, performance reviews, and commentary from Morningstar. The booklet is designed. to give readers acomprehensive picture of each fund in Fidelity's Advisor line, the spokeswoman said.
Fidelity also tries to anticipate questions banks' customers may be asking and provide answers in the monthly guide.
Keystone, on the other hand, adopted a decidedly different tone in their four-page newsletter, which is geared toward educating brokers.
"Experience has shown that one of the challenges in bank distribution is to give ongoing education to sales representatives in branches," said Peter M. Delehanty, senior vice president in charge of the bank sales division.
Mr. Delehanty said that most of the newsletters focus on selling specific products, rather than providing generic information.
But some brokers say that they read newsletters mostly to get more information about products.
"You need information that helps you keep up on the market and products you are selling," said Kathleen Bradshaw, sales manager at Indiana Federal Bank in Valparaiso, Ind.
The information about new products and facts about individual funds that help make them unique are among the most helpful parts of these newsletters, Union Bank's Mr. Knopf said.
Newletters also "provide us insights on successful sales tactics and their applications," Mr. Uccello added.
Although it does not have a newsletter geared specifically toward banks, Kemper Financial Services' "Capital Ideas" was most often cited, by both competitors and bankers, as the best newsletter in the industry. "It encompasses the most material and gives you good sales ideas," Ms. Bradshaw said.