Burnham Asset Management
has been holding its own over the
past year, finding success in one sector fund. What has buoyed the New York
firm's assets under management as the firm's flagship fund has sunk 15
percent in assets this year alone?
The Burnham Financial Services Fund (BURKX
), which has been enjoying a solo spot at
the top of the performance
in its category. If you hold by the old adage, Burnham ought to be
flattered that Nations Funds
launched a similar fund itself, the very first in its sector lineup.
"There is a lot of money out there, and I think you really need to
differentiate what you have and why it would be of interest to the buyer,"
said Debra Hyman
, vice president at Burnham. "If you have a product
that's different, God bless you. We've had a lot of interest in that little
However, like many larger firms, Burnham has still pulled the reins on
spending. The firm has cut one position and has no immediate plans to
replace a marketer who recently left.
"One thing we've done on the mutual fund side is we've cut back travel to
what is truly truly necessary and if we need to speak to people, we do
conference calls," explained Hyman. "We were very lean to begin with. Where
we've cut back [staff] is in wholesaling because we felt that, since
traveling was cut back, it was hard for them to be effective."
Burnham has also scrutinized the value of conferences, paring its
attendance down to those that really generate sales.
"We cut back to conferences we feel are truly necessary," said Hyman. "It's
tough to really correlate where your sales are for some of these
conferences, especially ones that are not dealer-related. Like a regional
financial planning conference that's continuing ed, it's hard to trace the
value of that long-term. So we're really looking at those that we feel are
truly helpful for us to reach our target market."
Broker conferences typically make the cut, but those that serve attendees
that are not all interested in mutual fund get the axe. Budget concerns
have also inspired Burnham to start wheeling and dealing with distribution
"We're also trying to negotiate fees for lots of different services," said
Hyman. "If you're going to be on one platform and it's not working for you,
then you try to renegotiate the fees that you pay to that vendor."
Meanwhile, Burnham is maintaining close contact with the intermediaries
that sell the funds. Burnham relaunched its Web site
last month and has kept up
its online and offline communications.
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