TC-launched mutual fund off to a robust start

TRAVERSE CITY While most mutual funds are designed and established in the financial capitals of the world, such as New York or Tokyo, a financial and investment firm in Traverse City recently launched its own family of mutual funds.

The fund has already grown to $60 million, according to Paul Sutherland, the firms Chief Investment Officer and a fund manager for Utopia Funds.

Utopia Funds, comprised of four no-load funds, began serving clients of Financial & Investment Management Group in March.

We launched Utopia Funds to allow us more flexibility in investing our clients funds, explained Sutherland from the firms suite of offices in Milliken Place on Cass. Utopia allows us to invest wherever we see huge opportunities.

Developing a new mutual fund is a complicated process. Sutherland began laying the foundation for the Utopia Fund in 2004. Navigating through a maze of regulatory procedures, the fund debuted in January 2006 and began accepting investments in March.

We wanted a fund that would provide a great deal for the average investor, explains Sutherland, who has more than three decades of experience in managing investments. These funds are designed for our clients to put their money in there and forget about it let us obsess about it.

While many of FIMs clients sport portfolios exceeding $1 million, the Utopia Fund is available for investors who want to begin with as little as $250, or an investment of $25 a month.

The Utopia Funds investment strategy is a principled, disciplined process of evaluating the chaos of the market and identifying the undervalued assets that show the potential for real returns, according to the funds prospectus. Our managers search the globe for favorable risk-adjusted investments.

The four Utopia Funds are managed by Sutherland, Zachary P. Liggett, and Suzanne D. Stepan. All are experienced portfolio managers with extensive backgrounds in U.S. and international financial markets.

The portfolio team for these funds is committed to pursuing long-term absolute total investor return and limiting downside volatility and risk, says Sutherland. We are disciplined seekers of undervalued assets and are concerned with investing in organizations that are economically responsible.

Dennis Prout, Certified Senior Advisor and President of Prout Financial Design, who worked with Sutherland for about five years, feels the fund will do well.

I have always been impressed by Pauls innate feel for the market,and all things financial, as well as his marketing prowess. I believe this fund will probably be extremely popular.

Founded by Sutherland in 1984, FIM is a fee-only investment group that manages their clients portfolios from offices in Traverse City, Onalaska, WI, and on the island of Maui in Hawaii. With a staff of 38, FIM manages assets valued at almost $600 million for hundreds of clients and their families around the world.

For more information about the Utopia Fund or FIM, call 1-888-886-7423. BN