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Mutual Fund News

Funds set to record best January sales in 10 years

Mutual fund sales are expected to reach $3.75-billion in January, the industry's best showing for the month since 1997.

Net new sales are expected to be between $3.5-billion and $4-billion, the Investment Funds Institute of Canada reported yesterday.

The preliminary results indicate the sector may be headed for a banner registered retirement savings plan season. Last winter, RRSP-fuelled sales totalled $3.2-billion in December and January. Sales are on track to surpass the $7-billion mark during the same two-month period.

"It's a record January," said Brenda Vince, president of RBC Asset Management. The unit of Royal Bank of Canada reported $797-million in January net sales, making it the month's top-selling firm.

RBC Select Portfolios -- a diversified portfolio of mutual funds -- accounted for close to half of the month's sales, she said. New offerings showed promise too, including two new equity funds managed by popular quantitative money manager Jim O'Shaughnessy, she said.

CI Financial Income Fund, a Toronto wealth manager, reported January net sales of $195-million, up 50 per cent from the same month a year ago.

"We feel CI is well positioned for the rest of this RSP season," said Stephen MacPhail, CI president and chief operating officer.

Sales in recent weeks have been "very good, very solid," said Chris Reynolds, president of Investment Planning Counsel Inc., a Mississauga-based wealth management firm with about 500 financial advisers.

"There is a lot of investor confidence right now, and investors are willing and able to make their RRSP contributions," Mr. Reynolds said.

Joining RBC among the month's top sellers was Dynamic Mutual Funds, reporting net sales of $602-million. Close behind was TD Asset Management, the fund arm of Toronto-Dominion Bank, reporting net sales of $549-million. In total, 11 firms reported net sales greater than $100-million during the month.

January marked a significant milestone for AIM Funds Management Inc. Limited exposure to the commodities boom has hurt performance and the Toronto company, best known for the Trimark and AIM fund brands, has been in net redemptions since the summer of 2005. The firm appeared to turn the corner last month, reporting net sales of $29-million.

Six firms lost business last month. Fidelity Investments Canada Ltd. and AIC Ltd. were neck in neck on the wrong side of the ledger, reporting net redemptions of $92-million and $91-million respectively. The Guardian Group of Funds Ltd., a unit of the Bank of Montreal, was in distant third, reporting $36-million in net redemptions.

© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.

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