Liberty Funds Distributor Inc. of Boston has added two broker-sold mutual funds to its Stein Roe Advisor series.
The Stein Roe Advisor Growth Investor Fund and Stein Roe Advisor Select Growth and Income Fund began offering front-end, back-end, and level-load shares late last month. A spokeswoman said Liberty is continuing to develop its multichannel approach, which encompasses sales directly to investors, as well as through brokers, financial planners, and fund supermarkets.
"We are furthering our efforts to bring mutual funds to all the places mutual fund investors want to buy funds," she said.
Stein Roe is one of several investment companies that have begun to stretch beyond their direct-sales roots by offering load funds. For example, Invesco Funds Group Inc., the no-load mutual fund arm of Amvescap PLC, said it would offer a broker-sold share class for 27 of its funds by February.
Scudder Funds has also switched some of its portfolios, and others, including Janus Funds, are considering such a move.
There are "lots of customers out there who still need advice about mutual fund investing and lots of them use full-service brokers. If you're a large organization, there's no point in ignoring that market," said Jonathan F. Zeschin, managing partner and founder of JZ Partners LLC, a Denver consulting firm.
Mr. Zeschin added that he expected Liberty to eventually phase out its no-load funds, which is what Pittsburgh-based Mellon Financial Corp. has said it plans to do with the Dreyfus Founders Funds. "I'm a little surprised they have done it incrementally instead of doing it all at once," he said.
The Stein Roe spokeswoman, however, said the fund company has no intention of moving all its funds out of the no-load channel. Indeed, it has an aggressive plan to launch new no-load products next year. She also said she expects the company to roll out more Stein Roe-managed load funds, though she could not discuss specific plans.
Stein Roe launched its first load fund in 1997 and now has seven in the Advisor series, with $1.8 billion of assets under management on Nov. 30, the spokeswoman said. The portfolios include a floating-rate fund, a young investor fund, a growth fund, a tax-managed growth fund, and a tax-managed value fund.