MFS Investment Management is shaking up its wholesale operations to reduce its reps' travel time and focus more on independent advisers and bank brokers.

The Boston fund company, which has more than $141 billion of assets under management and serves more than five million investors, announced Thursday that it would consolidate its bank and financial adviser divisions and reduce the territory covered by each wholesaler.

Effective Oct. 1, it said, the new sales division will be staffed by 57 wholesalers, eight more than now. Ten wholesalers will work exclusively with brokers at financial institutions in major banking markets. The remaining 47 will work with banks and financial advisers. The company will also hire four key account managers to cover its home office relationships.

MFS hopes to develop better relationships with its clients and take some travelling burden off its sales force, a spokesman said.

The company told many of its clients about the change as early as last week.

The arrangement will allow MFS' distributors to spend more time helping individual clients build their businesses, the spokesman said. The company has focused recently on training third-party brokers and advisers in estate planning and retirement planning, he said.

Other fund companies - including Alliance Capital Management - have consolidated or shuffled their distribution channels recently, but MFS is the largest to make such an extensive change, said an official at a rival company.

The move may indicate where other fund companies will move in the future, at least partially to keep their wholesalers happy, the official said. Wholesalers travel frequently over a wide geographical region, which can be disruptive to family life, he said.

The consolidation may also open up opportunities for competing companies to swipe business from MFS if it loses focus in any distribution channel, he said.

The MFS spokesman said the company does not think any of its clients will get less attention from its wholesalers. Bank brokers' and independent advisers' businesses have become increasingly similar in recent years, so it will not be difficult for a wholesaler used to advisers to communicate with brokers, and vice versa, he said.

Sean McLoughlin will retain his position as director of financial institutions marketing, while Bill Finnegan will become director of financial adviser marketing. Both men will report to Jim FitzGerald, who will be the director of the new division.

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.