Merrill Lynch Mutual Funds
has come a long way from selling primarily money market funds. After years of multiplying and collapsing together like soap bubbles, the fund family is settling into a more stable lineup. Even the downturn in the market has a potential upside for the firm.
At this point, said president Terry Glenn
, Merrill Lynch is not looking at developing a lot of new products, but some consolidations may continue.
"We've generated a lot of new products over a decade-and-a-half. We have in the last couple of years filled out our product line," said Glenn. Of mergers, he added,"We've had over 40 mergers in the past few years. There may still be a little more than that."
With products in place, Glenn certainly has other plans for growing the firm's assets. In particular, he cited an expansion in the area of third-party distribution.
"For the better part of two decades, we sold exclusively through Merrill Lynch," explained Glenn. "In fact, we even cancelled [third-party sales] agreements the first year I was here."
In order to assure continued growth, Merrill Lynch will be trying to unpack its funds from the "proprietary family" box. While Glenn was not specific about the firm's plans, sub-advisement would not be an unlikely avenue, considering current industry trends.
Referring several times to Merrill Lynch's acquisition of London-based Mercury, Glenn also emphasized the importance of the overseas market in future plans.
"We see huge growth opportunities outside the United States," he said. "I think there's going to be a big chance there to be a player in Europe. Defined contribution plans across the world are going to grow."
In the meantime, the bear has brought with it opportunity for Merrill Lynch. Echoing similar comments from many advice-focused investment firms, Glenn said, "While we go through tough times in periods like this, our market share invariably increases because people want advice and guidance."
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