JPMorgan’s five-year plan to boost its mutual fund business appears to be paying off, with the company attracting $26 billion in 2008, making it the third best-selling fund family for the year, excluding money market funds, behind Vanguard and PIMCO. In 2004, investors redeemed $1.6 billion from JPMorgan funds. Still, however, with $91 billion in assets under management, however, JPMorgan is now the 14th-largest fund company in the nation.

JPMorgan Funds CEO George Gatch told MarketWatch that managing money is “incredibly important” for its private banking clients. “Five years ago, my goal was to be among the top five in net fund flows,” Gatch said. “No one believed me, internally and externally.”

Gatch said he achieved the strong inflows through small meetings with financial advisers in which JPMorgan sales executives walked them through the strengths of their products, research and performance. In addition, JPMorgan began hiring top-level salespeople in July, expanding ranks by 30%, all the while doubling advertising expenditures. One of the company’s key hires of the past three years was David Kelly, chief market strategist, who came in 2007 from Putnam Investments, where he was chief economic adviser.

Burt Greenwald, president of BJ Greenwald Associates, commented on JPMorgan’s success: “JPMorgan has really made a commitment to the business. It’s quite unusual for a bank to be as successful as JPMorgan has been in the mutual fund business.”

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