American Century Investments, a longtime seller of no-load funds, has transformed 10 portfolios into load funds in a bid to attract more diversified distribution through banks and other financial intermediaries.

The change is "an evolution" for the company, according to David Larrabee, senior vice president of third-party sales at American Century. The new funds let the company reach customers who prefer to work with financial intermediaries rather than buying funds directly.

American Century began offering A, B and C class shares for the 10 funds on Feb. 3. These portfolios, now called American Century Advisor Funds, are sold only through financial intermediaries. The advisers’ commissions and fees are calculated as a load on the price of the fund.

The funds are: International Growth, New Opportunities II, Select, Large Company Value, Value, California High-Yield Municipal, High-Yield Municipal, High-Yield, Diversified Bond, and Prime Money Market.

Customers who invested in the Advisor Funds before Jan. 31 may continue to invest in the funds directly.

American Century's remaining 52 funds will remain no-load funds sold directly to consumers.

Larrabee said the company’s funds have been sold through banks as parts of managed accounts but that the new funds will let American Century sell its products through different areas of the banks.

His company has worked with banks before, Larrabee said, but usually on the corporate or personal trust side. Offering load funds lets American Century sell through the brokerage part of the bank as well.

He also said that by offering a wider variety of funds, the company is able to attract more distributors who want to work with fewer companies but ones having more complete product lines.

Adding these funds could attract "brokers that want to know a handful of stories well, and a handful of firms well," he said.

Larrabee said that 110 firms have signed up to sell the new funds - most of them companies that have previously sold American Century products. Banking companies that have signed up include J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Commerce Bank. The company is also talking to PNC Financial Group.

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