Mutual Fund Firms Fight for Top Spot in Industry

By Tim Quinson Bloomberg News | THE JOURNAL RECORD, September 11, 1997 | Go to article overview

Mutual Fund Firms Fight for Top Spot in Industry


Tim Quinson Bloomberg News, THE JOURNAL RECORD


BOSTON -- There's little question Fidelity Investments, Vanguard Group, Putnam Investments and Janus Capital Corp. are among the most successful mutual fund companies in the business today.

The tougher question: Which firms will emerge as the industry's next leaders?

Financial Research takes a stab at answering the debate in a new report. The Boston-based industry consulting firm singles out Scudder, Stevens & Clark, Harris Associates and Goldman, Sachs as the industry's "rising stars." Scudder, Harris Associates, which manages the Oakmark funds, and Goldman "are building sales momentum and are well-positioned to reap future gains," according to Financial Research. The three firms share some common characteristics. They all have funds that are generating top-notch returns. They also have strong management teams and are making a concerted effort to improve sales by expanding the way they market their funds, according to Financial Research. Financial Research makes some "interesting" choices, said Geoff Bobroff, an industry consultant in East Greenwich, R.I. Harris' funds are growing fast, but Goldman's assets haven't grown much and neither have Scudder's, he said. "Scudder is showing signs of being on the verge of success," Bobroff said. "Goldman hasn't shown enough to indicate to me that it can be a leader in the near term." Scudder is an "up and comer," Financial Research reported. While that may seem an odd description for a firm that opened its doors 78 years ago, Scudder's funds are attracting new investments at a healthy clip after about four years of below-average performance. The New York-based firm, which is being acquired by Zurich Group, Switzerland's largest insurer, had sluggish asset growth in the four- year period ended Dec. 31. Scudder's mutual fund assets rose 38 percent in the four-year period to $36.58 billion, according to the Investment Company Institute. By contrast, Denver-based Janus' mutual fund assets more than tripled to $35.68 billion in the same period. Scudder is now attracting higher net inflows to its funds following the firm's decision to make its funds available to investors through mutual fund supermarkets offered by Charles Schwab, according to Financial Research. …

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