Infomercial helps make sense of Canadian retirement funds

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This year, in addition to hosting the obligatory seminars to educate people about Canada's version of the individual retirement account, the Bank of Montreal's First Canadian Funds took its message to the airwaves.

The mutual funds company ran a 30-minute infomercial titled "Matchmaker" to inform the public about its asset allocation program and discuss the fears related to investing.

Competition is fierce to lure retirement-minded Canadians, who can invest about $9,000 annually in tax free Retirement Savings Plans.

Channel 500 approached First Canadian Funds to suggest using an infomercial to present the complex financial information, said Rod Bell, president of the Toronto direct-response TV production company.

With DRTV, the company was able to demystify mutual fund investing and reach potential customers inside their homes, said Sandy Bourne, VP-marketing for First Canadian Funds.

The infomercial, which aired in January and February, included an 800-number to get more information.

Call volume generated by the infomercial was 20% higher than expected, and though the number of customers opening retirement accounts was lower than last year, the total amount invested was 200% more than expected.

`It ended up being a very successful tool to drive acquisition," Ms. Bourne said.

Channel 500 is updating the "Matchmaker" program for 2000 and recently released a separate 30-minute spot explaining First Canadian Funds' In-tuition Registered Education Savings Plan, which allows parents to put money away for children's future education costs.

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