A ten percent hike in its sales and marketing budget for 2012 will no doubt help visibility for J.P. Morgan Chase
] mutual fund arm in the coming year. The budget hike comes as CEO George Gatch
aims to attract more investors by presenting in simple terms the sophisticated market themes and
investment products, reports
Jessica Toonkel of Reuters
The bank-owned mutual fund firm is relying on new products, a simple message and a well-spoken chief market strategist (in the form of David Kelly) for its strategy.
Gatch tells the news service that he doesn't "think the industry has a great record of delivering products and services in a way that helps people understand them."
He adds that with the goal to "advise the advisers," the firm has a line-up of initiatives for the coming year such as expanding its online information, bringing in more sales staff, and coming out with an iPad application for financial advisers.
"This idea of simplification isn't about being simple, but about bringing sophisticated capabilities in a customized way to investors," Gatch said.
The simplification efforts started this November through the new plan design for large 401(k) plans. J.P. Morgan offered target date funds and three investment "buckets" consisting of different portfolios of equity funds, bond funds and cash alternatives (see MFWire's coverage
for more about the 401(k) effort).
The mutual fund sales staff is also grilled by portfolio managers, investment strategists and sales managers once a year to test how
equipped they are with product and market knowledge, as well as their sales skills.
Kelly's popularity is shown in a number provided by the article: 8,000. That is how many advisors called in to hear Kelly after Standard & Poor's
downgraded U.S. debt in August. That audience is a call record.
There is one other number that must make Gatch happy. That is the number three. Three is where JP Morgan's mutual fund ranks in net inflows so far this year (it is behind only Vanguard and Pimco). Those flows total $17 billion through November, according to Strategic Insight.
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