Following a trend among banks, Keycorp has dramatically cut the number of mutual funds families it offers customers.

Recently, the Cleveland banking company reduced the number of outside companies whose funds it sells from 50 to five, said Jack L. Kopnisky, Keycorp's brokerage president.

The selections: AIM Funds Group, American Capital Family of Funds, Fidelity Investments, Franklin Templeton Distributors, Putnam Mutual Funds, and Keycorp's own Victory Funds.

The bank unveiled the new strategy to its 250 brokers this month.

In creating a "short list," Keycorp is joining the growing number of banks that are limiting their dealings with a wide array of fund companies.

The list, which took three months to develop, is one of the first initiatives Mr. Kopnisky launched when he was named to the top brokerage spot early this year.

Industry experts say limited fund lists make sense, since they give brokers greater focus and let banks demand more from fund companies.

In Keycorp's case, mutual funds were particularly plentiful because the banking company spent the past decade buying banks across the northern United States. Each bank typically had its own broad array of offerings, and did its own marketing.

At times, branch lobbies would swell with mutual fund wholesalers who wanted brokers' attention, Mr. Kopnisky said.

"It was distracting for our sales representatives and their customers."

Now, the bank is comfortable with a slate of well-know, well-run funds, including the 15 Victory products, Mr. Kopnisky said.

The Key portfolios underwent the same scrutiny as the other offerings, he added.

The Victory Funds, the product of last year's merger between Keycorp and Society Corp., had $5.1 billion in assets at March 31. Keycorp executives have made growth a mandate for the products.

"We've got an organization that is very serious about its efforts to grow the mutual funds internally," said Lawrence Babin, manager of the Victory Diversified Stock Fund.

Keycorp executives say the expansion will not come at the expense of customers. In fact, the funds are often tailored with Keycorp customers in mind, Mr. Babin said.

The commitment extends to a fund that invests solely in Ohio-based companies, an area where Key has a large customer base, he said.

Mr. Babin and other Victory managers also say they will support brokers by answering their questions and being available for branch presentations.

"I wouldn't think a Putnam manager would go to Elkhart, Ind., to talk about how a mutual fund is run," Mr. Babin said.

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