Sean F. McLoughlin's first order of business upon taking the helm of the financial institutions division at Massachusetts Financial Services in July was to deploy more troops.

Mr. McLoughlin, 45, has hired a marketing specialist and four wholesalers, bringing the field sales force to 20. He is also looking for a key account manager to cover the middle of the country and a national account manager, who he said should be on board in four to six weeks.

The challenge of selling mutual funds through banks is to accommodate banks' differing selling strategies, Mr. McLoughlin said.

For example, he said, some banks use platform brokers -- employees who are part-time sales representatives -- but some only use full-time brokers, and others a combination of the two. Some banks also hire brokers to serve only wealthy clients.

"It is definitely not one-size-fits-all," said Mr. McLoughlin, who joined Massachusetts Financial in 1993 as regional vice president for New York and New England. In July, he succeeded his boss, Lisa Jones, who moved over to the institutional side.

Though he is still getting his feet wet in his new role, Mr. McLoughlin said he plans to continue initiatives that Ms. Jones began. As part of one of those initiatives -- shrinking the territories that wholesalers cover -- Mr. McLoughlin's former territory was split in half so that one wholesaler covers Manhattan and Queens and another covers New England. Massachusetts Financial also recently made North and South Carolina into one territory, spinning off Maryland and Virginia into another.

The goal, he said, is to be "the best business partner as we possibly can be. There's no magic potion here, it's just great coverage."

To be sure, the fund company faces tough competition for investor dollars. Ranked as the 18th-largest fund group in August data from Boston-based Financial Research Corp., Massachusetts Financial does 20% of its business through banks. There it competes against giants such as Putnam Investments, the largest seller of mutual funds through banks.

But with $113 billion under management, Massachusetts Financial is making strides and had $3.2 billion of fund and variable annuity sales through banks by the end of September.

Gary Chiusano says Massachusetts Financial accounts for 40% of fund sales at Sussex County State Bank in Franklin, N.J., where he is a broker. "For a long time, we were exclusively MFS, so I just got comfortable with them," he said.

Ed Hipp, president of Centura Banks Inc. in Rocky Mount, N.C., said MFS accounts for 11% of sales by Centura Securities Inc., behind Houston-based AIM Management Group, with a 23% share, and Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Van Kampen Investments Inc., with 20%.

He said the brokerage has benefited from Massachusetts Financial's efforts to shrink wholesaler territory. "I think more and more fund companies are realizing that it's physically impossible (for one wholesaler) to cover six or seven states."

Meanwhile, Mr. McLoughlin, who is based in Boston, said he is getting used to working in the home office, which is drastically different from being alone in the field.

"Since July, it's been go, go, go. There's been a lot to learn," he said.

He is also traveling more, visiting banks nationwide that currently sell Massachusetts Financial's funds, as well as prospective product partners. Though the company is on the preferred list of at least 100 financial institutions, Mr. McLoughlin said he would like to see this total increase significantly.

Spare time to enjoy riding his bicycle or to be with his three children has been almost nonexistent in recent months, Mr. McLoughlin said. "When I was a wholesaler, I used to think I had a busy job," he said. "Little did I know."

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