When we first opened our figurative doors to the public in February 1999
, the timing seemed auspicious. The mutual fund industry was in the midst of a nearly two decade long bull market that had taken fund assets from about $350 billion in 1982 to $6.8 trillion in 1999. To put that figure in perspective, net flows to mutual funds reached $364 billion in 1999, more than the entire industry managed when the bull market started in 1982. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was closing in on 10000 (to be exact, 9340) and 401(k) plans and the fund supermarkets were driving a revolution by forcing fund sponsors to focus on either "manufacturing" or "distribution" and portfolio managers were becoming media stars with their own evening show on CNBC hosted by Jim Rogers and Bill Griffith.
More than a decade later, the Dow is once again closing in on 10000 -- though from the other direction. The mutual fund industry is in retreat over revenue sharing and other practices created by the Nineties upheaval. Jim Rogers has ridden his BMW around the world and mutual fund portfolio managers are the media's fall guys.
Yet, I think that the future is a bright as ever for the mutual fund industry. Exchange-traded funds are transforming from a competitive threat to most fund firms to a new tool thanks to the SEC's new openness to actively-managed versions of the product. Small shops are springing up left and right thanks to the now numerous "turn key" fund providers. Even distribution, which was at risk of being dominated by just the fund shops able to pay for shelf space may be reopening as those payments come under reform. Undoubtedly, there are still more innovations as yet unknown to us that will have an impact as profound and far reaching as Charles Schwab's launch of One Source in 1992 or Signature Financial's patenting of hub-and-spoke in 1993. Those innovations will come from the minds and the sweat of men and women from across the mutual fund industry.
In that spirit, the MFWire.com is once again seeking to identify the people that will drive the industry's innovation and growth in the coming year. To better identify these leaders and influencers, we are asking you to send us the names of those who should be considered for our final list, which will be published later this month. Unlike last year, when we considered only fund distribution, we are looking across the entire industry for this year's most influential. Candidates could be someone still in obscurity with a revolutionary idea, a leader of a major fund complex with market clout, a regulator or legislator who will reshape the rules, a media star or a portfolio manager running the next hot fund or an executive who quietly inspires and leads his co-workers.
Whoever you think those influencers are, please share their names with us so that they can be recognized.
Use this link to make nominations.
Sean G. Hanna
Publisher & Editor
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