ABN Amro Asset Management USA Inc. is capitalizing on its international expertise to expand fund distribution in the United States.
"Our experience and core competence is in global equities," said Steven A. Smith, senior vice president and director of mutual funds. "With the growing awareness of the global marketplace, we ought to position this expertise in the [U.S.] marketplace."
Chicago-based ABN Amro's plan is to sell its three international equity funds through registered investment advisers.
"We don't have the distribution capability to serve the bank and broker-dealer marketplace," Mr. Smith said. Instead, the goal is "to build a core network of financial advisers truly committed to building clients' portfolios and understanding international markets."
By focusing on its international funds, the company hopes to capitalize not only on its international expertise, but also on the name recognition commanded by its parent, Amsterdam-based ABN Amro Bank, Mr. Smith said.
"People not necessarily familiar with ABN Amro think 'international,' " he said.
ABN Amro has created no-load share classes for the International Equity Fund, with $219 million of assets; the Latin America Equity Fund, with $36 million of assets; and the Asian Tigers Fund, with $47 million of assets.
The company recently began selling the funds through Charles Schwab & Co., Fidelity Investments, and TD Waterhouse.
ABN Amro recently signed a contract with Datalynx, a funds platform owned by First Trust Corp. of Denver.
To date, the funds, like ABN Amro's other 12 portfolios, have been sold primarily to the bank's high-net-worth clients in the United States, Mr. Smith said.
Bank-owned fund companies need to move beyond proprietary distribution, and it makes sense to lead with the strongest product, said Geoffrey H. Bobroff, a mutual fund consultant in East Greenwich, R.I. But ABN Amro faces stiff competition, he said.
"Five to seven years ago, international expertise within broker-sold product lines was not as strong," Mr. Bobroff said. In the past few years, though, many fund complexes that have gained international capabilities by partnering with overseas subadvisers, he said.
ABN Amro intends to build an educational component into its marketing efforts. For instance, the firm plans to offer registered advisers access to a password-protected Web site featuring research on the global marketplace. The fund company will also host a series of luncheons and speeches for investment advisers.
"Performance helps, but it becomes a commodity if you're not helping the advisers," Mr. Smith said.
ABN Amro has over $8.4 billion of assets under management in the United States, including $3.7 billion in the ABN Amro Funds.