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Friday, May 09, 2008

Brennan Heads Up All-Star Investing Panel

Reported by Erin Kello

The 50th Annual ICI GMM kicked off its first full day of conference activities on Thursday with a panel discussing the changing world of investing. The panel featured: Jack Brennan, chairman and CEO of Vanguard; Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management; Bill Nutt, chairman of AMG; Jonathan Thomas, president and CEO of American Century Investments; and Arthur Zeikel, retired chairman of Merrill Lynch Asset MAnagement.

Brennan moderated the session, questioning panelists on topics ranging from the '60s bubble versus the'90s bubble, to ETFs and 12b-1 fees.

Nutt began by reiterating something that has become somewhat of a theme for this GMM, the importance of retirement plans to the fund business. Nutt said that retirement business is the single greatest opportunity for mutual funds. Other panelists echoed this sentiment.

Hobson made fellow panelists chuckle when she compared the overcrowding of the ETF market to over-breeding dogs causing them to eventually go crazy. Brennan joked that it was time to turn off her mike.

The panel also took on the 12-b-1 fee issue. Thomas started on the topic, saying that the 12b-1 was absolutely acceptable. Hobson agreed, remarking that the fee is essential to the survival of small fund firms, but that maybe it's time for a new moniker to better describe what it does. Nutt also said the fee was acceptable and agreed that a new name might be in order.

As the panel wrapped up, Brennan joked that the panel was going to go for two hours instead of the one alloted because there was so much to discuss on the broad topic of investing.

See also The MFWire's other coverage on the ICI GMM: "The ICI Makes 401k a Top Priority," May 7, 2008
"ICI Guide: 50th Anniversary Edition," May 6, 2008  

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