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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

MFEA Returns to Its Roots

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Kimber Lintz and Brian Smith are getting the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) back to its roots as fundsters across the industry grapple with the massive active-to-passive shift.

Kimber Lintz
Mutual Fund Education Alliance
Director
"The MFEA has spent a number of its most recent years more internally focused within the industry on executive education," Smith tells MFWire. "We're going to now blend our original mission, investor education, with that new mission," i.e. educating fundsters.

"We're all waking up now ... and saying, 'We need to get back to that,'" Smith adds.

Lintz and Smith put the MFEA's 2017 shift in the context of the need for more investor education in light of the recent dominance (in terms of net flows) of index mutual funds over traditional, actively managed funds. The focus shift for the trade group came out of members attending events for MFEA's four executive council groups (on digital technology, distribution, marketing, and product management).

"This issue bubbled up through all of our councils in one form or another," Smith says. "From each of those areas we were hearing the same thing: provide education, deliver education, expand education," especially "with respect to the active-passive issue."

On November 2, Lintz confirms, MFEA gathered about 60 top fundsters at OppenheimerFunds' [profile] headquarters in New York City. The event, Smith adds, was exclusively for "the very senior people who are over marketing, distribution, product management, company operations." (The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the event, without talking to the MFEA about the details.)

"We brought them together for a wide-ranging discussion," Smith says. "Active-passive pretty much dominated that day."

Attending fundsters concluded, Smith adds, that "the MFEA needs to do more to educate people about the role of active management, about the role of passive management."

"We don't even cover it on our website," Smith says. "We're correcting that."

Lintz says that the team at the MFEA is working together with member committees "to pull together all the information and tools that they have," gathering fundsters' commentaries, links, white papers, and more. Fundsters, she says, have offered "very supportive reactions" so far.

"We need to redo the website to provide custom literature and information that can be utilized by association members ... to link the very best content from our membership and from key third parties," Smith says.

Watch for new MFEA content to launch soon.

"We will do our best to go back to the retail press and try to do what we can to provide support, education, and awareness," Smith adds.

And the MFEA folks plan to hold at least two more meetings in 2017 along the lines of the November meeting, in addition to their eight usual council meetings and their annual STAR Awards dinner.

For fundsters not involved in the MFEA's new effort, Smith says, "the MFEA is a home for developing the best information, literature, and outreach." You can share your own firm's research and perspective.

"Help foster this public discussion," Smith says. "You can immediately be with peers, have resources be available to you, and also help shape and influence that dialogue." 

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