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Monday, February 14, 2011

Fund Executives Ponder the Next Transformational Product

Reported by Armie Margaret Lee

Around 500 executives from mutual fund firms and fund service providers descended on Miami for the 29th Annual NICSA Conference & Expo. The confab kicked off with a reception Sunday night and will run through Wednesday morning at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa.

Robert Turner
Turner Investments
Chairman, Co-Founder
Monday morning, Turner Investments chairman, co-founder Robert Turner, Eaton Vance Distributors president Matt Witkos, Prudential Investments executive vice president and head of retail distribution Stuart Parker and Charles Schwab Investment Management chief financial officer George Pereira took the stage for the "Face the Membership" session. CNBC's Tyler Mathisen was the moderator.

The executives talked about ETFs, the decumulation phase, employee retention and iPads.

Mathisen asked the panelists what they think the next transformational product or platform will be.

Pereira responded that products with a guaranteed component will be the next transformational product. Parker, for his part, responded with unified managed accounts. Witkos, meanwhile, talked about the way advisors give advice to clients.

On the topic of ETFs, Turner acknowledged that ETFs' low cost represents a challenge.

The talk also turned to the impact of wirehouse consolidation on the mutual fund industry.

Fund firms are "trying to get through fewer, smaller doors," Parker said. Distributors, he said, "might raise fees to participate on their platforms."

He also noted that some distributors are limiting the number of products they want to carry on their platforms.

"It's a very competitive environment," he said. "People are migrating more and more distribution to places that are easier to go," he added, pointing to the independent channel, banks and RIAs. 

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