Another Dot-com Complex Bites the Dust
February 11, 2002
Van Ness Funds has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to liquidate all five of its index funds. The funds were distributed through Whatifi.com, an online financial services firm, which marketed the funds to young investors with online financial planning advice.
With the closing of the funds, Whatifi.com and the Van Ness Funds join the likes of other dot-com firms that have recently fizzled. Last year, X.com Funds, StockJungle.com, Allied Owners Action Fund and MetaMarkets.com all pulled the plug on their struggling online fund offerings.
Since it was launched, Whatifi.com has struggled to garner assets in the online channel and last year the company partnered with Amicus Financial, a wholly owned subsidiary of CIBC, to distribute the funds through 123 banking pavilions in Winn Dixie supermarkets throughout Florida.
The partnership did not yield a sufficient inflow of assets to keep the funds afloat, said Harris Fricker, CEO of Whatifi.com. "Quite frankly, we weren't seeing traction gathering assets through our partnership," he said. A call to Amicus Financial was not returned.
While the Van Ness funds will no longer be available, Whatifi.com will continue to provide investment advice, Fricker said. Moreover, Fricker said the funds will be liquidated but not deregistered. "We've mothballed the funds and we haven't deregistered them," he said. "We're seeking other ways to get the funds to the mainstream market." Fricker did not elaborate on those plans.
As of June 30, 2001, all of the Van Ness funds, which were part of a master/feeder structure with Barclays Global Advisors, had low levels of assets. The Van Ness S&P Index Fund had just $44,097 in assets under management; the Extended Market Index Fund had $34,484 in assets; the International Index Fund had $32,886 in assets; the Total Bond Index Fund had $38,547 in assets and the Money Market Fund had $35,497.