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Rating:On the Lookout Not Rated 3.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Tuesday, January 09, 2001

On the Lookout

Reported by Tamiko Toland

PioneerFunds Distributor has been on a manhunt since last year. Marketing head William Poulin left in the fall, as UniCredito Italiano completed its acquisition of the firm.

With the acquisition, Pioneer's mission has changed drastically. Once an international firm with broad but low-key presence, it has now turned its focus strictly to the United States and launched an aggressive marketing campaign. Other arms of the Italian parent handle distribution internationally.

"What's happened is UniCredito Italiano came in and said, 'We want to make Pioneer a tier 1 firm in the US.'" explained Steve Graziano, president of Pioneer. "That requires a 100% focus in the United States. We have a lot of resources that we can bring to bear in the US."

While Graziano was unable to comment specifically on Poulin's departure, he did point out that Poulin had been hired before Pioneer announced its intention to find a strategic partner. Poulin, who had developed John Hancock's offshore fund family, had signed on when Pioneer still handled its own international business.

"People leave jobs for lots of reasons, and it's not always because of organizational breakdowns," Graziano said. "We've just been through an acquisition, and with the acquisition come changes. The environment changes when you're acquired. it creates opportunity for two things: opportunity to reasses what you're doing, and whether you want to continue doing that; and opportunity for those who want to jump onto the new mission."

While some firms are battening down their hatches, Pioneer is advancing at full throttle.

"In hard times, many firms start to retreat while we'll be aggressively promoting, and that means we'll gain market share," explained Graziano. "When times get good, we'll be able to rise with the tide. We're looking forward to a broadening of the market. I think that'll play nicely to our market strengths."

During Pioneer's search for a new marketing head, Graziano has been overseeing the marketing role, but he stressed that his five experienced marketing managers have assumed most of the burden. For Graziano, that means that the firm has been able to bide its time looking for the right candidate.

"We're not in desperation, nor do we have to act immediately," he said. "We have a very well-running, functioning organization with senior players so it's not like things aren't getting done."

Graziano is looking for somebody who can assume Pioneer's foot-forward stance and pick up a lot of projects that are already full-speed ahead.

"We're in a very aggressive mode right now," he said. "We are developing product and pricing and branding campaigns to move the Pioneer brand into the spotlight. The new person would be expected to drive that development as well as whatever new channels and programs we develop. This person will be jumping onto a moving train. 

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