The Dreyfus Corp. of New York is turning to financial intermediaries to improve sales of its socially-conscious fund offering.

In early August, Dreyfus obtained shareholder approval to change the distribution of its socially-conscious fund, the Dreyfus Third Century Fund, which had been sold without a sales load.

On Aug. 31, the fund was renamed the Dreyfus Premier Third Century Fund and is now being sold as part of the Premier family of funds, a group of 44 funds that are sold exclusively through brokers and other financial planners. The Third Century Fund is being taken out of the direct channel, but existing shareholders will still be allowed to purchase new shares without a load.

The growth fund has done well over the past few years, returning 20.3 percent in the 12 months ending May 31, compared with the S&P 500's return of 21.03 percent for the same period. Assets under management have also grown steadily, from $368 million as of May 31, 1995 to over $1.2 billion as of Aug. 31, according to the company. But Dreyfus officials believe that the new distribution plan, which includes the creation of six different sales charge structures, will help boost sales by making the fund more accessible to more investors, according to a proxy statement filed with the SEC in the spring.

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