Advisors at UBS, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and most recently Bank of America Merrill Lynch now have access to Putnam Investments’ bundled services in the defined contribution space, including relationship management, client services implementation, communication, phone access, web interfaces and regulatory services. The asset management firm announced the newest partnership agreement with Merrill Lynch Wednesday. In addition to the wires, Putnam also has a similar partnership with LPL Financial to provide its 401(k) services.
Edmund Murphy III, head of defined contribution for Putnam, said the firm does not have any other similar partnerships in the works, but that the firm will remain focused on its existing partners. The services are geared towards advisors with clients who have between $5 million to $50 million in defined contribution plan assets.
The 401(k) and defined contribution business has been a key area of investment and focus for Putnam lately. Just last month, the firm expanded its DC sales team by hiring Steven McKay as regional sales director for New England and upstate New York; and Joseph Kaplan as regional sales director for New York City and surrounding areas and New Jersey. Ryan Tolmie, was promoted to regional sales director covering Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
But Putnam has been ramping up its distribution efforts in general, creating a new role—head of strategic accounts—to focus on managing relationships with the large wirehouses and regional broker/dealers. James Bumpus, previously a regional director for the East region, was appointed to this role. The firm also boosted its wholesaling force in 2011, and expects to expand it more in 2012. William Connolly, head of global distribution, had this to say of the new efforts:
Based on the evolving brokerage landscape and renewed interest in Putnam and its capabilities, we are extremely enthused about the prospects presented by both the traditional wire houses and independent firms to address some of the greatest challenges facing investment clients today. Through our more dedicated focus by advisor channel, Putnam expects to be able to bring an even added level of depth to its relationships with distribution partners, in a manner that meets their specific practice management and client needs.
As we wrote in May 2011, Putnam has been rising from the ashes, so to speak, rebranding itself and working on gaining back the confidence of advisors. Are the efforts working?