but it plans to make up ground fast.
The U.S. arm of ING Group, the giant Dutch financial services company, began selling through banks in December as part of a rollout of its new mutual fund family, the ING Funds.
The eight portfolios in the family collectively manage $800 million of assets.
ING executives say they have the products -- mutual funds, fixed and variable annuities, and life insurance -- to make the company an appealing partner for bank brokers.
"We've tried not to have any holes in the product line," said John J. Pileggi, president of ING Mutual Funds Management of Philadelphia. "We can help banks provide a product across the whole life cycle of someone."
The point man for ING's bank-channel effort is Michael McCoy, chief of the financial institutions group. He acknowledged that the channel is extremely competitive but said ING plans to stand out.
"There is a lot of channel clutter right now," he said. "You've got to make sure you're not viewed as one more product provider in the bank."
But ING's depth of offerings should secure it shelf space, Mr. McCoy said. "We're one of few companies that can bring a multiline story to the table."
Mr. McCoy also said that ING has the people to deliver the products. His group has 30 wholesalers, account managers, and support employees.
The company has its work cut out for it, analysts said.
"They've got to offer something that someone else isn't," said Charles Wendel, president of New York-based Financial Institutions Consulting.
"This could come in the form of a better product assortment or lower fees."
Because the ING Funds are new, they do not carry the performance rankings that brokers often look to for guidance.
But Mr. Pileggi said the variety of portfolios in the ING Funds helps make up for this. The mutual fund group includes a technology fund and an Internet fund, in addition to the more all-purpose growth and value offerings.
Mr. Pileggi declined to estimate what kind of sales the funds will have through the bank channel this year, but he did say his goals are ambitious.
"ING likes a lot of zeros after its numbers," he said.