Liberty Funds Group is offering training on wealth management and stock options to banks' sales representatives nationwide.

Many fund salespeople know little about options, said Stephen Gibson, chief executive officer and president of the unit, which provides sales and marketing services for Liberty Financial Cos. fund families.

Advice on wealth management will be increasingly important to the emerging class of wealthy investors as more salespeople scramble for their business, he added.

The new program was born of a tax-strategy division that the firm launched a year and a half ago, Mr. Gibson said.

The stock options program has evolved into a service division of Liberty that provides bank brokers with advice on how to better serve their wealthy clients, he said.

Unlike the rich of earlier generations, rich baby boomers inherited only about 20% of their wealth, and they accumulated it earlier, Mr. Gibson said.

Several banks have agreed to sell Liberty products to take advantage of the training program, he said. He declined to name them.

Neil Epstein, vice president of equity research at Putnam Lovell Securities Inc. in New York, said educational services are becoming more important to the fund business as competition for shelf space becomes more intense.

"In the ongoing battle for market share, it's a smart idea," Mr. Epstein said.

Liberty recently put its own name on some subsidiary funds to make them easier to sell. Third-party salespeople said the rebranding would help, Mr. Gibson said.

But the funds of two fund management units - Wanger Asset Management and Newport Pacific Management - retain non-Liberty names. Both firms have strong international equity divisions, and worldwide investors are likely to value those brands, Mr. Gibson said.

Wanger, which Liberty bought last month for $280 million in cash, is best known for its Acorn Funds.

"We want to get a unified brand under our various disparate products, without running roughshod over everything we paid a lot of money for," said Mr. Gibson.

Liberty has said it might seek more companies to buy, but Mr. Gibson declined to discuss the subject.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.