Northern Trust Corp. of Chicago is taking steps to boost distribution of its retail and institutional mutual funds.
Last week the company, which caters to high-net-worth and institutional clients, said it would offer five of its no-load Northern Funds through Charles Schwab & Co.'s Mutual Fund OneSource on-line supermarket.
But it is not stopping there. It has also hired an internal marketing team to work on a print advertising campaign and is planning to add several new funds.
"We're trying to make sure that we don't miss out on anything," said Lloyd Wennlund, senior vice president of the company's principal bank unit, Northern Trust Co.
The company already had an agreement to sell its funds through the Jack White & Co. fund supermarket, which is now part of Toronto-Dominion Bank's discount brokerage division, T.D. Waterhouse. But Northern Trust has not pursued the fund supermarket sales aggressively until now, Mr. Wennlund said.
Fund supermarkets typically carry thousands of funds from different providers; many of those funds are made available to registered investment advisers and retail investors without a transaction fee. Northern Trust is negotiating with other supermarkets, including those run by Fidelity Investments and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette's Pershing division, Mr. Wennlund said.
Dennis Gallant, a consultant with Cerulli Associates of Boston, expressed doubts about Northern Trust's initiative. It is hard to push no-load fund in the current market, in which investors are seeking more advice, he said.
But Mr. Wennlund said Northern Trust is not necessarily trying to make its no-load funds a "household name." Instead, he said, it is looking to advance in select markets, including registered investment advisers.
Consultant Louis Harvey said he found that "surprising." Investment advisers typically deal with individuals with $100,000 to $150,000 in their portfolios, while Northern Trust's clients usually have several times that, said Mr. Harvey, who is the president of Dalbar Inc., a Boston-based consulting firm.
"I don't really understand how it makes that much sense, given their position in the institutional marketplace," he said.
Meanwhile, Northern Trust is bulking up its fund offerings.
The Northern Funds, which had $12.8 billion of assets in 24 funds on Aug. 31, will add four portfolios on Oct. 1, one more by the end of December, and another by the end of March.
Northern Institutional Funds, which had $13.2 billion in 17 funds, will add two funds by the end of next month and two more by the end of the year.
The banking company has also decided to do most of its fund administration in-house, with the help of First Data Investor Services Group of Westborough, Mass., which is acting as co-administrator. Northern Trust had used Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for institutional administration, and an agreement with Sunstone Financial Group of Milwaukee, covering retail administration and marketing of the retail funds ends Oct. 1, Mr. Wennlund said.
Northern Trust, which previously did little to promote its institutional line, has also decided to handle marketing of both fund families in-house. Five people have been hired to help, said Jan Temple, the national marketing director.
The marketing team's first campaign, "Trust Northern for a lifetime of investing," was launched last week in personal finance magazines including Money and Worth, and in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Temple said.
The ads are running in California, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Washington.