Bankrupt corporations>, a heavy-weight champion, even music icons like Prince have resorted to a name change to reinvent their public personas. When your mutual fund does it, though, you d better know why. It s a red flag, says Larry Glazer, managing partner of Mayflower Advisors. There may be nothing amiss, but investors should call their advisor or fund company and ask questions when they see a different fund name appear on their statements. Here are some reasons why a fund s name might change:
Some mutual funds change their names after their track records slip. A dramatic example of this were the Regions Morgan Keegan bond funds, which racked up big losses due to subprime mortgage investments, says Russ Kinnel, director of mutual fund research at Morningstar (MORN)
Last year, in preparation for a spinoff that never happened, investment manager Julius Baer Americas changed its name to Artio Global Investors. The company s family of mutual funds followed suit. Two years ago, ABN AMRO sold its U.S. fund family. The 24 no-load funds holding around $3 billion now carry the Aston Funds name.
For less obvious reasons, Fidelity recently pulled Aggressive from three mutual fund names: Fidelity Aggressive Growth became Fidelity Growth Strategies (FDEGX),
Some funds can drop their names altogether. This can happen when funds are subsumed into others. Last November, Putnam merged six underperforming funds into larger ones as part of a major restructuring of the company s equity investment division. While this type of merging could ultimately benefit shareholders, it also leads to what s known as survivorship bias, Glazer says. A fund company s overall track record improves after it has merged its poorly performing funds out of existence.