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T. Rowe Price introducing administrative service


T. Rowe Price is making it easier for do-it-yourself investors to organize their finances. The no-load fund company is offering anyone who invests a minimum amount of assets with the company an accounting and brokerage tool called the T. Rowe Price Asset Manager Account.

As part of the program, participants will receive a monthly, consolidated statement, bringing together individual, joint, taxable and individual retirement account statements that would normally come separately.

Participants will also be given access to check-writing and ATM services through a new class of T. Rowe Price money market fund shares and access to T. Rowe Price's brokerage service and over 1,000 no-load mutual funds.

The new account was created because investors want the paperwork they receive from different investment accounts simplified, says Ken Rutherford, a vice president at T. Rowe Price and project manager for the new service.

The minimum account balance is $10,000. While fees are normally $15 per quarter, they are waived for those with a $50,000 account balance, including $25,000 invested in T. Rowe Price mutual funds. Minimum balance requirements and fees are lower for IRA investors.

Some financial advisers said the new service is valuable for helping investors organize their finances. But, they said only an adviser can provide advice and guidance on which investments to buy.

"As an adviser, we provide a consolidated statement for our clients... but in addition we do research to get to the point to say here's our menu of a dozen funds," said Peter Ferrucci, an adviser with Ferrucci Financial Services in Stamford, Conn. Others stressed that financial advisers have long provided clients with consolidated accounts.

"This type of account is something we full-service financial advisers already provide to our clients," said Jeffrey Ross, an adviser with Planner's Edge in Mercer Island, Wash. " Whether this type of account will be helpful to investors is hard for me to say. I work in the arena where clients want to come to a financial professional for help... clients have routinely expected such an account from us for decades." T. Rowe Price's introduction of its new product is part of a trend among mutual fund companies which are discovering that they must diversify the services they offer in order to compete, says Ferrucci. This includes selling funds from other fund companies as T. Rowe Price is also doing through its asset manager account.

The account is being marketed through direct mail and in print advertising, says Rutherford.