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Rating:'Wholesalers Wanted' Sign is Up as RidgeWorth Adopts a New Sales Strategy Not Rated 3.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, December 13, 2010

'Wholesalers Wanted' Sign is Up as RidgeWorth Adopts a New Sales Strategy

Reported by Armie Margaret Lee

RidgeWorth Investments is assembling a team of five to seven wholesalers that will focus solely on the retail space, The MFWire.com has learned. The firm will name a national sales manager for the group in early January, said RidgeWorth president Jim Stueve.

Jim Stueve
RidgeWorth Investments
The move is part of a new strategy under which the Atlanta-based investment manager, a wholly owned subsidiary of SunTrust Banks Inc., will have one set of wholesalers devoted to retail and another set dedicated to the retirement market, instead of having one sales team splitting their time between the two channels.

RidgeWorth currently has a team of five retirement consultants. As reported by The MFWire.com's sister publication The 401kWire this morning, Pioneer Investments alum Brandon Shea joined RidgeWorth today in the newly created position of national sales manager for the defined contribution sales team. Shea reports to Stueve. RidgeWorth is considering expanding Shea's team, Stueve said.

Previously, the five wholesalers spent two-thirds of their time on the retirement market and a third on the retail space, Steuve told The MFWire.com in an interview.

The five previously reported to national sales manager Elizabeth Wilson, who left the firm in October.

Why did RidgeWorth decide to change its sales approach?

"We want the retirement wholesalers to deepen their focus on that market," Stueve said. "We're at a critical junction with that business. We want to make sure we give 100 percent of our effort, as opposed to 66 percent, but we also don't want to walk away from the traditional advisor business."

The change in the way RidgeWorth's sales team is organized comes as RidgeWorth is experiencing better-than-expected sales.

RidgeWorth will end the year with third-party gross sales of more than $6 billion, Stueve said. Of that number, sales in the retirement space account for between $1.2 billion and $1.7 billion.

"It exceeded our goals," Stueve said of the 2010 sales figure. RidgeWorth, he said, was shooting for third-party gross sales of just over $5 billion this year. Last year, it pulled in $3.7 billion of sales through third parties.

In 2007, RidgeWorth racked up $650 million of gross sales that were not sourced from its banking parent. When Stueve, an alum of AIM Distributors, joined RidgeWorth, then known as Trusco Capital Management, in November 2007, he ramped up efforts to reach out to third parties.

Next year, Stueve is eyeing third-party gross sales of between $7.2 billion and $7.5 billion. "We think between a 20 to 25 percent growth rate is achievable for us."

Stueve pointed to two factors that helped sales exceed goals this year. There were the Lipper awards that RidgeWorth took home in February, including the "Overall Small" group prize. Stueve also mentioned efforts made by RidgeWorth's marketing team, led by David Craig. RidgeWorth bagged four awards at the Mutual Fund Education Alliance's 2010 Star Awards.

On the retirement side, RidgeWorth counts 2,400 advisors "that are meaningful to our practice," Stueve said. On the retail side, around 7,000 advisors have sold RidgeWorth's products.

"We can't be everything to everybody," Stueve said. "We want to be meaningful to those we choose partner with." 

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