The Colonial Group Inc. last month hired a Fidelity Investments executive to head a new effort to sell mutual funds through fee-based programs in banks and other distribution channels.

Robert M. Hussey, 33, was previously a vice president for brokerage at Fidelity, Boston.

Mr. Hussey's efforts encompass Colonial, Newport, and Stein Roe mutual funds, which are all owned by Boston-based Liberty Financial Cos., the parent of Colonial.

Fee-based sales through wrap account programs make up an estimated 5% to 10% of banks' fund sales, and that share could rise to 25% within two or three years, according to industry experts.

Most of Colonial's business is done through wire houses and regional brokerages, but it is in the midst of an effort to reinvigorate its bank sales.

Last year, Liberty hired two Putnam Investments executives to lead its bank sales program. And this year, in a bid to increase overall sales, Colonial boosted the commissions it pays on back-loaded shares by a percentage point, to 5%, for brokers at banks and elsewhere.

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