Jim Cracchiolo, CEO of Ameriprise Financial, sat down recently with the local paper (in his case the Minneapolis Star-Tribune) to discuss the firm's spin-off from American Express. The deal is set to be completed at the start of October, at which time the firm's mutual funds will also take the RiverSource name. Two questions during the interview touched on Ameriprise's fund business (see below).
Those wishing to read the entire published interview can find it at StarTribune.com
Star-Tribune: Though it has improved recently, your mutual fund performance has been disappointing over the years. How do you go from simply having improved mutual-fund performance to having the best mutual-fund performance of your peers?
Cracchiolo: Over the last few years, we brought in top-notch talent. We've invested in the right research capabilities and analysts to support our investment process. The performance over the last years has improved nicely, and we are continuing to make progress. We think we can be a player with strong performance, and we have the right talent to achieve that performance.
Star-Tribune: For years American Express Financial Advisors clung to a proprietary model in which the firm only sold American Express mutual funds to clients and only used its advisers to sell its products. How do you make your culture more nimble and flexible?
Cracchiolo: Today we have full open architecture for our investment products, and [recently] we've launched more products than we did over the last decade and a half. My philosophy and the focus of my leadership now is to be an innovative company again. We had to play catch-up. We had to close gaps we had in our product portfolio.
Having said that, we think there is a great opportunity to use our experience as well as the capabilities we have as a company, both in our asset management and our insurance and our brokerage business to create more appropriate products to satisfy the long-term needs of our clients.
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