BOSTON — Keith T. Banks, an industry veteran with a reputation as an "investment guy," is embarking on the ultimate sales job: convincing people his Columbia Management Group has come through a regulatory gauntlet and a spate of mergers and acquisitions as a coherent organization poised to win new business.
"We're just now beginning to come back out and re-create our profile," Mr. Banks, Columbia president and chief investment officer, said in an interview. That interview came as a year of self-imposed silence ended Feb. 9, when the firm and its parent of less than one year — Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America — both reached market-timing settlements with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
With $330 billion in assets under management and a streamlined structure, Columbia has a strong story to tell, said Mr. Banks.
But it won't be an easy sell.
For many observers Columbia, the money management arm of FleetBoston Financial Corp., was a byword for mixing and matching of investment firms even before Bank of America acquired Fleet in April 2004, adding its Nations fund family and other affiliates into the mix.
"I don't think I have enough fingers on my hands to describe the number of organizations that have been put together" at Columbia, said Geoff Bobroff, president of mutual fund consultant Bobroff Associates Inc., East Greenwich, Conn.