The future is...folios?
From The New York Times
While mutual fund industry leaders munch shrimp and sip chardonnay at their annual gathering in Washington, their destruction is being plotted. Steven Wallman thinks mutual funds cost too much, repeatedly fail to beat the market and frequently stick shareholders with big tax bills. His solution is to let investors create their own, customized baskets of stocks. He calls them folios, and they're for sale over the Internet. For only $295 per year, investors create three do-it-yourself stock funds containing as many as 50 stocks each, and change their holdings twice a day. To date, fund companies have had a wait-and-see attitude.
Citigroup launches ad campaign
From The Wall Street Journal
Citigroup now owns four fund families. Its launching a major ad campaign on Thursday for the Smith Barney line, indicating that those funds will be the major asset-management brand. The ads are the first work of Stephen Cone, the high-profile marketing executive Citigroup grabbed from Fidelity. Citigroup hopes the ads will stem outflows from its funds, which totaled almost $2 billion in 1999. The firm will also revamp the Citifunds family and plans to launch a line of no-load index funds to be sold under the Citifunds name.
The (price) war is on
State Street Global Advisors will slash the annual expense ratio of its nine sector funds, or Spiders, by half. After the reduction, the expense ratios will be about 0.28%. The move appears to be a reaction to Barclay's Global Investors, whose new lineup of 35 exchange-traded funds will have expense ratios of 0.60%. The coup de grace may come later, when Vanguard sets prices for its new line of ETFs.
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