Branching into the retail retirement services business, American General Financial Group is creating a family of 23 mutual funds called the American General Fund Group.

Until now, American General, of Houston, has not sold mutual funds. Its presence in the investment business has been confined to selling variable annuity contracts through 401(k) and 403(b) plans and selling fixed annuities through banks. The variable annuities have been sold through The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co. (VALIC) and the fixed annuities through the American General Annuity Insurance Co. Both companies are American General subsidiaries.

American General Financial Group has 1,200 retirement planning specialists across the country who have been selling 401(K) and 403 (b)plans but who have not sold on the retail level. Those reps will now be able to offer mutual funds, annuities, life insurance and other financial planning services directly to consumers. American General's retirement services division currently has $54 billion in assets under management.

In introducing the mutual funds, American General hopes to provide one-stop shopping for consumers, said Allison Cowan, an American General spokesperson.

American General officials said the new funds were created in part in response to requests from shareholders in the company's employer-sponsored plans for mutual funds that they could add to their own portfolios.

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