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Alliance Makeover Focuses Distribution on Key Agents

MIAMI - Having put the pain of a pervasive trading scandal behind it, Alliance Capital Management and its mutual fund subsidiary Alliance Bernstein are focused on carving out market share and winning new clients by retooling their distribution strategy. "We're no longer known for hot product and high fees," said Bob Hausler, director of marketing communications at AllianceBernstein, speaking at a recent conference sponsored by the National Company Service Association. "We're a different firm than we were 14 months ago."

Hausler told attendees that there has been significant turnover at the firm, some as a direct result of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's investigation, others as collateral damage, resulting in a new culture at the firm, one that is "a lot more strategically focused. We're looking to narrow and deepen our focus [as we] evaluate the different channels." As a result, the firm is hiring a lot of new people, including fund wholesalers, to help spread its new message and focus more on marketing than on sales. While he acknowledged that the firm needs both facets to be successful, he said it was important to rely less on its "selling machine" to penetrate the market.

Alliance is also investing heavily in technology to upgrade its adviser Web sites and get wholesalers better equipment in the field. "We have to figure out a way to use technology better to stay competitive," he said.

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