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Friday, March 24, 2006

Michigan RIA Launches Utopian Fund Family

Reported by Marie Glancy

In a bold move, Financial & Investment Management Group of Traverse City, Michigan, has launched a full family of four new funds, the asset management firm announced late Thursday. The Utopia Funds unofficially kicked off on January 1 of this year, and represent the first fund offerings from FIM Group.

The introduction of the Utopia Growth Fund, the Utopia Core Fund, the Utopia Core Conservative Fund, and the Utopia Yield Income Fund follows months of complex preparation, the company said. All four funds are described as no-load, global total return funds without 12(b)-1 fees.

FIM Group is a fee-only investment advisor with $500 million in assets under management. Founded in 1984 by Paul H. Sutherland, it has offices in Hawaii and Wisconsin.

In announcing the launch, FIM said the family is designed especially for those seeking simplified portfolios, as it offers a full package of broadly diversified investments. With a low minimum initial investment of $500 -- less through an IRA -- the funds are targeted to attract small-scale investors acting individually or through a plan sponsor.

FIM spokesperson Jennifer Byron said that rolling out a complete fund family, as opposed to a single fund at a time, enables investors to create immediately a risk profile that is matched to their specific needs. She did not provide exact figures with regard to the size of the funds, but said, "We are topping the $10 million mark in one of the funds right now ... the plan is to grow the funds."

FIM's operational partners are an esteemed bunch: ALPS affiliates will serve as transfer agent, administrator, fund accountant, and distributor; Northern Trust will be the global custodian, and Deloitte & Touche will be the independent registered accountants.

Byron said that procuring top partners was part of FIM's strategy on the launch. "We really believed that it was important to work with [service partners] of the very best caliber," she said.

The fund's managers will incorporate a wide variety of strategies to limit risk while pursuing "long-term absolute total investor return," said FIM's news release. As portfolio manager Suzanne Stepan put it, "We created these funds with investing flexibility to go after all opportunities as they arise." 

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