The History of Van Kampen Investments
1927...Was a Year of Milestones
Eager to be part of the action, 28-year-old Kenneth Stevens Van Strum moved to New York City late in 1927 and established Van Strum Financial Service, an investment-counseling firm, at 730 Fifth Avenue.
An economist with a master’s degree in business from Harvard, Van Strum had already made a name for himself as a columnist in Barron’s and as the author of two respected books on stock-market trends. Van Strum did not know that his one-man firm would eventually evolve into one of the oldest and largest investment management firms in the United States.
Surviving the Great Depression
Despite the bleak national economic picture, Van Strum Financial Service prospered. In 1930, Van Strum hired Harvard classmate Herbert Sands Towne to open a branch office in Springfield, Massachusetts. Four years later, Towne became a partner and the firm was renamed Van Strum & Towne, Inc.
In 1937, the pair helped to found the Investment Counsel Association of America, a professional association for investment advisors. By 1940, Van Strum & Towne, Inc., had nearly three-dozen employees in five locations around the country and offered a variety of customized services to help clients of all income levels attain their investment goals.
Growing With a Country
Mutual funds, however, soon caught—and kept—Channing Corporation’s attention. By the end of the 1950s, the firm shed its interests in auto parts and hardware, and assembled an array of funds in the U.S. and Canada. In 1960, the company entered the insurance business by acquiring several existing companies. By 1969, Channing could offer a full portfolio of financial services, from investment counseling to nearly a dozen mutual funds and a wide range of insurance policies.
During the next fifteen years, Channing underwent several mergers, eventually emerging under the name American Capital Corporation in 1983. In spite of transitions in name and ownership, a longstanding commitment to help Americans reach their financial goals remained the firm’s driving force.
A Future Partner
In 1984, Van Kampen Merritt introduced its first mutual fund, the Van Kampen Merritt U.S. Government Fund. Just two years later, the firm’s mutual fund business topped $3.5 billion.
In 1991, Van Kampen made the historic decision to exit capital markets and concentrate on mutual funds and unit investment trusts. The stage was set for a "merger of equals."
A Merger of Equals
Van Kampen American Capital (VKAC) soon attracted the attention of Morgan Stanley, a Wall Street firm with roots dating to the early nineteenth century. In June 1996, Morgan Stanley acquired VKAC, a strategic move that immediately gave the firm a substantial presence in domestic mutual fund markets.
Less than a year later, Morgan Stanley merged with retail brokerage and credit card company Dean Witter, Discover & Co. Overnight, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter more than doubled its stake in the mutual fund arena. Dean Witter’s $77 billion fund business, combined with the assets of VKAC, created one of only six companies in the nation to hold more than $100 billion in mutual fund assets.
Van Kampen Investments Today
Today, Van Kampen Investments remains one of the nation’s oldest and largest investment management companies, managing or supervising approximately $100 billion in assets, including a broad array of open-end and closed-end mutual funds, unit investment trusts, retirement products and investment platforms.
With nearly four generations of money management experience, so you can appreciate life’s true wealth.