Scudder, Stevens & Clark, a money management firm that manages $32 billion in no-load mutual funds, has placed the director of its Boston office in charge of sales through the bank channel.
E. Michael Brown has quietly assumed the sales and marketing duties formerly handled by Karl Deavers, who retired in January as chairman of the institutional funds group at the New York-based company.
Another key chunk of Mr. Deavers' old job - administering and servicing Scudder's institutional funds - has been handed off to David S. Lee, president of Scudder Investor Services. Neither Mr. Brown nor Mr. Lee could be reached for comment.
The moves prompted some industry observers to speculate that Scudder is retreating from the business of marketing its funds through banks, but a spokeswoman disputed that assessment.
"We are in the process of building up in the sales and marketing area to banks," a spokeswoman said. "We're looking at a variety of things, including providing this marketplace with new products and services."
She added that the company views Mr. Deavers' former duties as "very significant, which is why we've taken the time and energy to have them taken on by two individuals."
Scudder, which manages 44 open-end no-load funds, markets a select group of them through bank trust departments and other institutional outlets.
These institutional products - eight money market funds and a bond fund - are geared to wealthy individuals and institutional investors, such as pension plans, and hold about $1.1 billion of assets.
One obvious way for Scudder to expand in the bank channel would be to add equity funds and a broader selection of bond funds to its institutional product mix.
Making inroads in the highly competitive bank market won't be easy, however. Competition for banks' business is driving the pricing of mutual funds down, putting pressure on fund companies, according to Geoffrey Bobroff, a fund consultant based in East Greenwich, R.I.
Mr. Brown, who came to Scudder 26 years ago, will direct the marketing efforts for Scudder's institutional funds. Along with managing Scudder's operations in Boston, Mr. Brown is president of Scudder's own trust company and assistant treasurer of Scudder Investor Services.
Mr. Lee who, currently oversees the administration of a $20 billion asset fund family, will focus on product development of the institutions group. Mr. Lee began at Scudder 30 years ago.