UMB Financial Corp. is diversifying its mutual fund offerings to help conservative investors test the riskier, higher-return technology market.

On May 1, pending regulatory approval, UMB, a banking company in Kansas City, Mo., with $8.1 billion of assets, plans to add two equity mutual funds to its proprietary UMB Scout Funds.

UMB is to manage the UMB Scout Technology Vision Fund in-house with the help of two analysts hired expressly for it, said William B. Greiner, a UMB executive vice president and chief investment officer.

The fund is to invest primarily in large-cap, growth-oriented stocks, with a smattering of "less seasoned" companies, said Mr. Greiner, who joined UMB nine months ago from Northern Trust Corp. of Chicago, where he was a vice president handling asset management for high-net-worth people.

The technology fund is to supply a way for UMB's conservative trust clients to benefit from technology stocks' high returns while remaining diversified, Mr. Greiner said.

Northern Trust is to subadvise the other new fund, the UMB Scout Stock Index Fund, which will track the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

Investing in a diversified portfolio is less risky than buying individual stocks, Mr. Greiner said.

Though the UMB Scout Funds, with 12 portfolios and $1.7 billion of assets, are relatively small, he said launching a proprietary technology portfolio is worth the expense and effort.

"We feel if we have a fiduciary responsibility of handling people's money, we want to have as much direct control over the process as possible," he said.

UMB's conservative reputation should alleviate any concern about its not having an established track record, he said. "They know we're not going to do anything tremendously aggressive with this fund."

"UMB has been both progressive and aggressive in working on their money management and custody businesses," said Joseph A. Stieven, a bank analyst in Kansas City for Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Launching a technology fund, though unusual for a banking company of this size, is not surprising, given UMB's effort to expand its asset management business, he said.

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