Seattle-based insurance and investment provider SAFECO said today that it will offer two new growth funds.

The products, the U.S. Growth fund and the Small Company Growth fund, represent SAFECO’s foray into growth investing and will be subadvised by growth manager Dresdner RCM Global Investors of San Francisco.

"It’s a new cornerstone for us to have growth," said SAFECO spokesman LeRoi Brashears. "We haven’t had that. We, along with our clients, haven’t had the total package that we’d like to have."

Growth funds have been especially hard hit during the markets’ protracted slump. Yet SAFECO is at least the second firm in recent weeks to dive for the first time into growth investing. Late last month Ariel Capital Management said it would also launch a growth fund. And, like Ariel, SAFECO says it is developing the funds to capitalize on growth’s comeback as markets eventually rebound.

"This is a great time to get the fund started," Brashears said.

Jim Pirak, VP of marketing for SAFECO’s investments unit, said the company currently offers 19 funds, including an international product, and oversees some $4 billion in mutual fund assets.

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