American Funds taking its talent to YouTube amid 'difficult time'

The normally low-profile fund family plans to bring its portfolio managers to the small screen

Mar 13, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

By Jason Kephart

American Funds
+ Zoom

This summer's must-see film for advisers won't be shown at the local megaplex. Instead, it's likely to be found on the iPad or laptop. That's because long-time adviser darling American Funds plans to make its YouTube debut this summer.

The move to YouTube will be the second wave of social-media adoption for American Funds. It launched its Facebook page in the past few weeks, but as of now it only contains a graphic with a link to the American Funds website. Eventually, the Facebook page and the YouTube channel will be populated with portfolio manager interviews.

The use of social media is a big change in direction for American Funds, but one that spokesman Chuck Freadhoff said is necessary.

“One of the most important things we can do is communicate with our advisers and to help educate them, both about our funds and investing in general,” he said. “If you're going to try to do that today, you need to be using the communication channels that people are using.”

The American Funds YouTube channel also will allow the funds' portfolio managers to have a more public presence. American Funds' portfolio managers are not made available for TV or radio, and only very rarely for print media, said Mr. Freadhoff. “This will be another avenue for them to be seen and heard,” he said.

The increase in reaching out to advisers comes during what Mr. Freadhoff calls “a difficult time.”

American Funds, the second-largest mutual fund family, has led the industry in outflows over the past three years as investors withdrew funds at a record pace. Last year, its flagship American Growth Fund of America Ticker:(AGTHX) alone had more outflows than any other mutual fund family combined.

Mr. Freadhoff stressed that nothing about the firm's investment policy has changed from what made it so popular in the first place.

“Obviously we pay a lot of attention to all our funds and are aware of flows in and out. The fundamental question I get asked all the time is, ‘Are you doing anything different?' and the answer is ‘no.' We continue to believe that intensive global research leads to good results over time.”

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