Putnam Investments has named a Merrill Lynch & Co. executive to head its huge mutual fund distribution business.

Richard A. Monaghan, a managing director in Merrill's corporate and institutional client group, will succeed William N. Shiebler, who announced last year that he plans to retire, Putnam said late Thursday.

Scheduled to start in early December, Mr. Monaghan will manage a business that accounts for $195 billion of Putnam's $250 billion of assets under management, overseeing sales through banks, brokers, and financial planners. He was not available to comment.

Boston-based Putnam is the largest seller of mutual funds through banks: It had $8 billion of bank sales in 1997 and expects to end this year with $8.5 billion. About 28% of Putnam's fund sales come through banks.

Mr. Monaghan's wire house background should enhance, not hurt, the strong relationships with banks that Putnam has forged under Mr. Shiebler, said Thomas J. Lucey, head of institutional and retail businesses for Putnam.

"He is a good executive, and he's going to rely on his resources here," said Mr. Lucey, referring to the company's bank sales team. "I see him adapting to that culture as opposed to him imposing the Merrill approach."

At the same time, the 44-year-old Mr. Monaghan, who has spent 13 years at Merrill Lynch, can help Putnam develop an identity as a needs-driven sales organization, Mr. Lucey said.

"We're trying to transition from being a pure product-pushing shop to figure out what bank reps need to make their clients happy," he said. "That's the entire Merrill culture."

Mr. Shiebler is to remain with the company to help with the transition.

Bank brokerage executives said that to be successful Mr. Monaghan must appreciate how the culture at bank brokerages differs from that at wire houses.

"That would be my first concern," said Michael Boulden, the head of Sanwa Bank's retail brokerage, in Los Angeles. "It's going to be an interesting challenge for him."

Jim Badge, head of the retail brokerage at Michigan National Corp. in Farmington Hills, said that as long as Putnam retains its strong array of support services and Mr. Monaghan listens to those at the firm who know the bank channel, including bank channel chief David Edlin, the transition should go well.

"He will consult with Shiebler and Edlin, and everything will be just fine," Mr. Badge said. "To me, sales is sales."

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.