The Riversource Mutual Funds no longer exist, at least in name. They have been renamed Columbia funds in 2010. So technically the name is gone but the funds still exist. The old Riversource funds encompassed a wide range of strategies, including absolute return, balanced, munis, money markets, global equity, large cap value and small cap value. So RiverSource really covers many of the same strategies of the top hedge fund managers.
The company behind the mutual funds, RiverSource still exists and it has a very long and interesting history. It was started all the way back in 1894. Back then it was called Investor’s Syndicate and it was located in Minnesota, which is where RiverSource is still located today. John Tappan started the company and its initial offering was essentially a savings certificate that allowed small investors to save their money for retirement.
Investor’s Syndicate continued to grow throughout the early 20th century and survived a large number of recessions, panics and even the Great Depression. In 1940 it launched Investor’s Mutual Fund which was one of the first mutual funds ever created. Back then, mutual funds were a very novel concept and an exceptionally great idea. It allowed people to pool their savings so that they could buy stakes in many different companies rather than just a handful of companies. This allowed the average investor to diversify his investments for the first time and this also gave him access to professional fund management for the first time, too.
In 1957, they formed Investors Syndicate Life Insurance and Annuity Company. This division sold life insurance policies and annuities to protect people in the event of premature deaths and to ensure that they would have income in their later years.
In 1984, the company is bought by American Express. Later, it is spun off from American Express into its Ameriprise division in 2005. At this point it is renamed RiverSource. In 2008, RiverSource acquires J. & W. Seligman which is an investment manager that runs a number of mutual funds. Then in 2010, Ameriprise acquires another asset manager called Columbia Management. RiverSource is then folded into the Columbia Management brand. The RiverSource Mutual Funds are renamed, while the insurance and annuity division continues to be called RiverSource.
So after a long history that spans a hundred fifteen years and twenty recessions a small company started by a young man with a big vision has become part of one of the largest and most trusted financial firms in the world.