A former placekicker, Ben L. Jones knows what it's like to come into a football game at the decisive moment and score the winning points.
Now he plans to use that attitude, honed during his days at Ohio State, to catapult Crestar Financial Corp.'s Capitoline Investment Services unit into full-service money manager status.
Mr. Jones, 55, took over in July as head of the Richmond, Va.-based company's investment management group, which manages $11.5 billion for institutions and private clients. The group includes the 12 proprietary Crestfunds. He joined just in time to take charge of a big initiative: converting Crestar's commingled trust funds to its proprietary mutual fund family.
The conversion will boost assets in the 12 Crestfunds to $2.5 billion from $1.8 billion. The family sports three equity, three cash management, three fixed-income, and three municipal bond portfolios.
Mr. Jones said he hopes the growth of the mutual fund complex will strengthen the identity and marketability of each.
"I'm trying to make sure each of our products is well-defined," he said, empathizing with consumers who have a hard time picking everything from a mutual fund to a brand of tennis shoe.
"It used to be that when you wanted to buy tennis shoes they were black or white, high-top or low-top," Mr. Jones said. "Now if you want athletic wear, there are 150 varieties to pick from."
At Capitoline, which has a stable of 30 investment managers, Mr. Jones reports to executive vice president Thomas D. "Skitch" Hogan. Mr. Hogan, who heads Crestar's capital management group, ran Capitoline for the six months after Robert Callahan left the company in January.
Now Mr. Jones is eager to gain for Capitoline a reputation as a well- rounded money manager.
"Capitoline has been known on the equity side as a value-style manager," Mr. Jones said. "And without diminishing the importance of that, we want to offer first-class growth and core style, as well as international."
Outsiders commend the Capitoline strategy and its commitment to giving each product its own identity.
"Brokers tend to sell in all sorts of ways and often don't get specific about fund profiles until it's too late," said Daniel R. Darst, managing director of Optima Group Inc., an investment management consulting firm in Fairfield, Conn.
In the ever-evolving investment management business, the new boss at Capitoline said he recognizes that change is good. After he began in banking, Mr. Jones was pulled away from his desk to serve in the U.S. Navy off the coast of Vietnam.
"I wasn't worried about equities or fixed-income markets, but I was worried about managing people in a different environment," Mr. Jones recalled. "It gave me skills I probably would not have had."