The Hartford Preps for a Sale

Insurer and wealth manager The Hartford is trimming its focus to a few core business areas: property and casualty, group benefits and mutual funds.

To accomplish this, the company will place its individual annuity business into runoff and pursue sales, or other alternatives, for its individual life, Woodbury Financial Services and retirement plan businesses.

In the remaining three businessess, The Hartford's chief executive Liam McGee said they have a "competitive market position, strong capital generating ability and lower sensitivity to capital markets." Further, McGee stated that Mutual Funds segment "is a high return business, and we are enthusiastic about our strategy to accelerate sales growth with the expanded Wellington Management sub-advisory relationship."

In a conference call with analysts, McGee revealed that the he expects the mutual fund, P&C and group benefits businesses to generate between 12% and 13% in combined return on equity in 2012. He also said that the firm recently moved its mutual fund headquarters to Radnor, Pennsylvania to be closer to the Wellington staff.

DreamWorks Eyes Mutual Funds, ETFs

Paul Fenner, president and founder of DreamWorks Capital Management, LLC, has launched a new investment management firm to provide investment advisory services to individuals, institutions, and small- and medium-sized businesses.

Fenner said that that the firm is looking to its own mutual fund, or ETF, focused on long-term capital growth utilizing both fundamental and technical analysis, giving it flexibility to handle the market's ups and downs.

PIMCO, Vanguard Get Top Institutional Billing

PIMCO and the Vanguard Group received the highest favorable ratings from prospective institutional investors amidst leading asset managers, according to a new study released by Cogent Research.

In the report, over two-thirds of prospects in both the pension and non-profit markets rated PIMCO "very" or "extremely favorably," and more than six in ten viewed Vanguard in a similar light.

"There are so many providers out there that an institutional investor can choose from, you really need to stand out in the marketplace-at least to make it to the first consideration step," Cogent managing director Tony Ferreira told Money Management Executive.

The report examined the attitudes and behaviors of institutional investors, including asset manager preferences, based on a survey among a nationally representative sample of 650 pension and non-profit institutions with a minimum of $20 million in assets.

Wellington Management Company was the only other firm to break the 50% mark in terms of strong favorability among pension prospects. In the non-profit market, Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo and LSV Asset Management rival Vanguard, with 60% and 57% favorability, respectively.

Ferreira said that a number of factors were important for a firm to develop favorable impressions within the industry. These factors include asserting thought leadership in the industry and providing continuous access to a firm's portfolio managers.

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