A bid to increase mutual fund sales through banks has fallen by the wayside as the bull market fuels sales across the board.

A plan to set up a trade group for fund companies that target the bank channel was hatched at an unusual, low-profile summit last spring. Roughly a dozen executives from some of the biggest companies that sell through banks attended.

"It's just kind of fizzled," said Michael Vessels, the head of bank sales for AIM Management Group in Houston.

Mr. Vessels said the executives, who are in charge of bank sales, have just been too busy to follow up with the idea.

Sales through banks have been rising steadily even if market share has not, he said. "Everyone's sales are up a lot."

The goal of the executives was to increase banks' market share of fund sales, a figure that has stood at around 15% in recent years.

The initiative appeared to acknowledge that bank sales were not meeting their potential. In the early 1990s, many predicted that banks would control 30% or more of the mutual fund market by 2000.

Those at the meeting had said they planned to approach an existing organization such as the Investment Company Institute, the fund industry's trade group, or the Bank Securities Association, its bank brokerage counterpart, by the end of last year to propose setting up a group under their umbrella.

"We had some conversations with some of the people at that meeting" last year, said J. Heywood E. Sloane, administrative director of the Bank Securities Association.

No formal proposal was made, he said, though the association remains "very open" to the idea.

A spokesman for the Investment Company Institute said his group had not been approached.

The proposed trade group could have taken several approaches to helping banks increase their market share, the fund executives said.

Suggestions included encouraging banks to expand their sales forces, raising investor awareness of funds' availability through banks, and finding better ways to motivate sales forces.

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.