Boston Financial Data Systems Inc. is taking over its parent company's mutual fund center in Lawrence, as the operation boosts its part-time payroll to meet an expanding list of clients.
DST Systems Inc., based in Kansas City, Mo., is turning over its financial center at 2000 Bluffs Drive to Boston Financial, which is owned by DST and State Street Corp. The full transition will be completed July 9.
A key for the center's future: The proximity of Kansas University and other institutions of higher education, whose students will be sought after as employees to answer phone inquiries, open mailed-in documents and otherwise process requests for changes in the mutual fund accounts of millions of shareholders.
"We are very excited about Lawrence's educated and flexible work force," said Steve Perry, vice president for Boston Financial in Lawrence.
The center now has 100 "flex-time" employees, up from 87 part-timers at the end of last year. The center's previous high was seven in 2003, just a year after the first part-timers were hired to work at the DST processing center.
The increases come as the center's full-time employment has waned. The center now has 124 full-time associates, Perry said, after some transferred to other DST operations in the Kansas City area. The full-time total is down from 146 at the end of last year, according to company data reported to City Hall, and short of the 175 full-timers DST had projected when the company secured a tax abatement in 2001.
DST had purchased the center in 2000 from Sallie Mae, which was closing the student loan center. A decade ago, Sallie Mae had about 600 employees in town.
This week, Perry wasn't talking about specific employment projections for the 52,000-square-foot center in Lawrence, but anticipated that more work would be on the way.
"We are looking forward to the future growth and the development of our presence in Lawrence and the Lawrence community," Perry said. "What we're looking to do is broaden our footprint in the Midwest."
Boston Financial is a third-party transfer agent, working on behalf of more than 145 providers of mutual funds to provide service on accounts that span traditional funds, college-savings 529 plans and defined-contribution and retirement funds.
Steve Hooley, president and chief executive officer of Boston Financial, and Tom McDonnell, CEO of DST, will be in town today to greet employees and meet with community leaders at the center.
Boston Financial, founded in 1973, now has more than 3,000 employees in Massachusetts, Kansas City, Mo., and Lawrence. Together they process accounts and transactions for more than 26 million shareholders.
Selected comments from Steve Perry, vice president of Boston Financial Data Services Inc. in Lawrence, regarding the company's use of a center at 2000 Bluffs Drive:
On employment at the center: "We have a very good contingent of students, primarily from KU, and we're looking forward to working with the other local universities to provide employment opportunities to the students. "What the associates of Boston Financial in Lawrence will be doing is we perform transfer agency services for our mutual fund clients and we do shareowner servicing on behalf of those mutual fund companies."
On employment changes in transitioning from a DST center to a Boston Financial center: "Over the last four years, both Boston Financial and DST full service have a small contingent of associates on the employment model that Boston Financial had using the college students as a flextime work force was very successful for us and what we decided to do, as we did expand the footprint out into the Midwest, was to expand that employment model and basically assume the entire facility in Lawrence. "Some of the DST associates that were in Lawrence took jobs out at one of the DST companies in Kansas City, but the majority of them have signed on and have become employees of Boston Financial and that transition started in the fourth quarter of '05 and will be completed on July 9."