Thursday 23rd June 2005

 

Expansion plans at UTC

 
 
 
 
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Photo: Wendy-Ann Duncan

BY SANDRA CHOUTHI

The Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) will be creating more space at its Port-of-Spain offices to improve customer service and plans to expand along the East/West Corridor.

Executive director Michael Alexander said about $100,000 will be spent to add more cubicles to the mezzanine floor at its Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, head office to accommodate more customer service representatives.

This physical transformation should take place by the end of August, Alexander said.

Speaking after the UTC’s annual general meeting at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, last week, Alexander was responding to an investor’s complaint that it takes up to an hour to see a customer service representative.

He said apart from the UTC toying with the idea of opening the branch at Westmoorings for two hours longer consideration is also being given to opening on Saturdays for limited hours.

He said a solution has to be found to deliver improved service for 511,000 UTC account holders.

“People have responded very positively to the idea,” Alexander said of the option of opening on Saturdays. “I want to do that in the third or fourth quarter of this year.”

The UTC is also looking to tap into the East/West Corridor market.

“We’re looking at opportunities on the Eastern Main Road from Curepe to Tacarigua,” Alexander said. “I don’t know where we’ll end up. We have to service that area.”

Alexander said, too, that the UTC now had formed a property development company to manage those buildings it owns in Tobago, Arima, Chaguanas and San Fernando,

“We don’t own our building in Couva, and I’m looking at the possibility to expand in Couva,” Alexander said.

....happy with Chaconia manager

UTC executive director Michael Alexander has expressed satisfaction with the performance of the manager of the Chaconia Fund, the Unit Trust’s US-domiciled income and growth mutual fund.

“The market in the US has not improved,” he said. “Mutual funds are under the gun in the States. We are satisfied that this asset manager is doing a quite good job.”

The Chaconia Fund is managed by Paul Vieira, the CEO of Earnest Partners, an Atlanta-based fund management company.

Alexander said the UTC had instituted asset managerial change 18 months ago although the fund’s web site indicated that Vieira had been managing the Chaconia fund since July 5, 2000.

The fund, which now stands in excess of US$20 million, has not lived up to expectations, according to Alexander.

“Certainly at inception, one would have thought in terms of a US$50 million or US$100 million type of fund. One would expect a fund like that to grow to US$100 million within a five-year span,” Alexander said. “This has not happened and the timing could not be worse in terms of the market performance in the States.”

Alexander said the original marketing strategy for the Chaconia Fund was aimed at the “wider West Indian diaspora.”

“We thought the wider West Indian diaspora would have gravitated towards the fund and that has not really happened in the States, and we have not been able to go into the indigenous markets, a la Washington, Miami, because the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) prohibits open advertisement.”

He said the UTC may have to use a US-based broker in a “different type of way.”

Alexander said one strategy may be to “link the fund with a family of funds to be sold with a family of other funds.”

“There are opportunities for us to market the fund in the wider region, meaning up and down the Eastern Caribbean, and in Jamaica,” Alexander said.

THE Unit Trust Corporation’s headquarters at Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.

©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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