Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mutual Funds Explained: What Do Mutual Fund Directors Do?

If you listen to John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard group and index fund advocate extraordinaire the answer is not enough and not enough for the money they are being paid. While index funds need little in the way of director input and the manager need only track the index they are assigned, actively managed mutual funds are a different story.

Mutual fund directors are supposed to be independent of the fund family they work for and the managers they oversee. They have enormous fiduciary responsibilities and some take this very seriously. Some, not so much.

There is the possibilities that those who do a job that is not in the shareholders best interest may be compromised by the not only the amount of money they earn from each fund board they sit on but the sheer number of funds they are charged with overseeing.

Bogle raised some eyebrows when he compared the average salary of a board director in the corporate sector ($48,000 per year per board - many who qualify sit on numerous boards) and those in the mutual fund industry ($386,000 per year per board - nearly eight times the corporate average). He more or less called this kind of pay disparity bribery suggesting that the director could not possibly do his job effectively with those kinds of compensation packages being doled out by the fund family.

In essence, Bogle suggested that the director, rather than working for the shareholder is merely a fund manager's stamp of approval. Can a mutual fund director do his job effectively without jeopardizing his lucrative compensation?

Possibly. But could someone like Lee A. Ault, 73, whose name turned up in 371 SEC required filings in the past year? Possibly not. The answer is left to the SEC. Currently, the level of responsibility that these fund directors must assume is really quite low. New regulations would allow the directors to better monitor decisions and performance, set fees that do not unduly impact the returns of the shareholders and keep track of how soft money is spent.

1 comment:

indianist said...

How to select a Mutual Fund? and Pls give some information on mutual fund, which mutual fund is good to invest?