Putnam Investments, the largest seller of mutual funds through bank brokerages, has enhanced its training program for financial advisers, known as the Putnam Institute.

Though the enhanced Putnam Institute is being made available to all sales channels, training programs have been particularly sought after by bank brokerages, according to Catherine A. Saunders, senior vice president and head of Putnam's financial institutions division. The enhanced training is being offered to the company's "best clients," she said, though she declined to say how many that includes.

The Boston-based fund company beefed up Putnam Institute last month with topics such as IRA distribution planning and how brokers can enhance their fee-based business, Ms. Saunders said in an interview this week at American Banker's offices.

Other topics Putnam has added since January include an introduction to variable annuities, the basics of variable life insurance, and the retirement savings gap. Putnam has also incorporated materials from in-house experts such as Robert Goodman, managing director and senior economic adviser, into its wholesaler presentations to brokers.

Putnam sold about $9 billion of mutual funds through bank brokerages last year.

"Our clients are asking more from their providers than just product," Ms. Saunders said.

Indeed, most fund companies offer some type of training. Fund companies see training as an important value-added service that can influence where brokers send their business.

Putnam's hometown rival, Fidelity Investments, for example, in November introduced BusinessPulse, a marketing program that includes a quarterly magazine with sales strategies, fund updates, and seminar kits to boost advisers' overall business.

And this week Fidelity began offering a Web-based service for advisers that considers the several stages of an investor's life.

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