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Rating:A Niche Fund Firm Swaps Its Leaders Not Rated 5.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, June 27, 2011

A Niche Fund Firm Swaps Its Leaders

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

USA Mutuals recently replaced its president and the portfolio manager of its two mutual funds. The Dallas-based mutual fund firm brought in Jerry Szilagyi as president on April 1 (and on May 25 as president of the trust), Cindy Clarke as treasurer of the USA Mutuals fund trust on April 15 and Gerald Sullivan as PM of both the Generation Wave Growth Fund and the Vice Fund on June 1 [see filing].

Clarke and Szilagyi succeed former USA Mutuals chief Eric Lansky, who stepped down on April 1. Clarke already served as financial officer for USA Mutuals itself.

Sullivan succeeds Jeffrey Middleswart. Sullivan holds a patent for the investment process behind his Industry Leaders Fund.

Catalysts For Change?

The move ties USA Mutuals to another fund firm, Catalyst Capital Advisors, which Szilagyi founded five years ago and leads as CEO. Catalyst is a value manager that offers five load mutual funds: Catalyst Strategic Value, Catalyst Value, Catalyst/Groesbeck Growth of Income, Catalyst/SMH High Income and Catalyst/SMH Total Return Income. In total, the Catalyst Funds hold $332.9 million, while the two USA Mutuals funds hold a combined $100 million.

Yet Szilagyi -- who was recruited by USA Mutuals' majority owner, Rick Sapio -- is not about to merge the two fund firms.

"They are two separate legal entities," Szilagyi told The MFWire, "and there are no plans to combine them at all."

Catalysts' funds are all load funds, and Szilagyi confirmed that he is looking to push USA Mutuals' funds in the advisor-sold side of the business.

"Our immediate focus on the marketing side is to focus on financial advisors, both RIAs and the broker-dealer channel. Historically, these funds have been more direct-sold to investors," Szilagyi said. "We may add load classes of shares some point."

Szilagyi is also looking up to amp his distribution capabilities at USA Mutuals.

"We have looked at a couple of third-party wholesaling firms, and we've also interviewed a couple of independent wholesalers whom we could hire directly," Szilagyi confided.

Banking on a New Gig

Meanwhile, Lansky joined New York City-based Stonecastle Partners as a director. The firm invests in community banks, and Lansky joined to help create asset management products and other investor connections into Stonecastle's existing bank investing business.

"My role is to bring the brand to a larger audience," Lansky told The MFWire, praising Stonecastle's "great resources."

Lansky first joined USA Mutuals two years ago after working with the Reserve [see The MFWire, 2/2/2009]. Also in 2009, he helped restart a mutual fund and RIA trade group now called the Investment Managers and Advisors Alliance [see The MFWire, 2/18/2009 and 6/25/2009]. 

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