Unionbancal Corp. is looking at a number of ways to increase the size of its Highmark Funds family.
R. Gregory Knopf, managing director of the San Francisco banking company's mutual fund business, said his aim is to boost assets under management to $14 billion over the next five years, from $8 billion now.
To reach that goal, Unionbancal plans to "leverage the Highmark brand name," he said. By September the bank's investment management unit, Pacific Alliance Capital Management, will adopt the name Highmark Capital Management. It would house $15 billion of assets, including the fund family.
The name change should also eliminate some confusion, Mr. Knopf said; the current name is a bit too close to that of Alliance Capital Management Inc., an unrelated mutual fund company in New York.
Mr. Knopf said Unionbancal is in discussions with a consultant on how best to sell the Highmark name. The name connotes "high marks, high quality," he said.
"We think we have a very good name; now what we want to do is use it and build a brand," Mr. Knopf said.
Unionbancal is also looking at creating five offshore funds that would be distributed in Japan through its parent, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd., Mr. Knopf said.
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi plans to begin distributing a range of investment products through its roughly 350 bank branches in Japan on Dec. 1. The Highmark offshore funds could be on the menu, he said.
The offshore funds would be registered in Luxembourg and would also be distributed in Europe and South Africa, Mr. Knopf said.
Unionbancal began using the Highmark name last year after merging Union Bank's Stepstone Funds with Bank of California's Highmark family. The banks merged in 1996.
Other asset-gathering efforts include the recent hire of two dedicated wholesalers. Their job is to find outside distribution channels for the fund family, with a focus on regional broker-dealers, Mr. Knopf said.
In looking to increase its mutual fund assets, Mr. Knopf said Unionbancal is not following the lead of other banks. With the blurring of lines in financial services, banks are not just competing with each other, he said. "Our competitors are the fund companies and Charles Schwab."