Some bank brokerage executives said mutual fund sales at their firms mirrored an industrywide trend of healthy net inflows in October.
Net new cash flow into all mutual funds - which takes into account new sales, redemptions, and exchanges - was $53.3 billion in October compared with outflows of $9 billion the previous month, according to the Investment Company Institute.
Net new cash flow into long-term funds, which excludes money markets, was $16.2 billion, compared with $6 billion in September and $7.4 billion in October 1998. Meanwhile redemptions, which had been up in recent months, fell 0.60% in October, though they were up 19.34% from a year earlier, the Investment Company Institute said.
"October has always been a good month for us," said Hugo Ernst, president of the brokerage unit at Intrust Financial Corp. of Wichita, Kan. He said mutual fund sales totaled $1.114 million in October, up 21% from the previous month and up about 45% from a year ago.
Joseph Cooney, the president and chief executive of the brokerage unit at Salt Lake City's First Security Corp., said First Security Investor Services Inc. had $5.8 million of fund sales in October, a 10% increase from the previous month.
Most of the interest has been in equity funds, where sales were "dramatically higher" than in bond funds, Mr. Cooney said.
Indeed, $20.42 billion of net new cash flowed into equity funds in October, nearly double what it was in September and up tenfold from the previous October, the Investment Company Institute said. Bond funds, by contrast, had outflows of $3.47 billion during the month, compared with outflows of $3.72 billion in September.
David Haywood, director of research at Financial Research Corp. of Boston, which also tracks fund flows, said inflows were fueled partly by investors' renewed interest in international equities.
Net inflows into international funds in October totaled $4.9 billion, compared with inflows of $1.8 billion in September and outflows of $728 million in October 1998, he said.
Mark Mullican, president of Allfirst Brokerage Corp., a unit of Baltimore's Allfirst Financial Inc., attributes a 20% increase in fund sales at his firm partly to increased manpower. He said the company has licensed 60 bankers to sell mutual funds in its Pennsylvania branches and plans to license another 30, bringing its total in all states to about 300.
However, not all brokerages had stellar fund sales in October. Wayne Adkinson, president of Regions Investment Co., the brokerage unit of Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala., said sales were off slightly, partly because of market turbulence and year-2000 concerns. Investors are moving money from growth funds into balanced portfolios because of millennium fears, Mr. Adkinson said.
"That's had more effect, quite frankly, than I thought it would," he said.
Other brokerage chiefs said investors have been more cautious but have not scaled back their investments because of year-2000 concerns.