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Friday, May 21, 2004

Redefining Independent Directors

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Is the gap between fund industry insiders and the outside world becoming too wide to bridge? Some evidence of that disconnect was provided Friday by the New York Times, unofficially the nation's paper of record and a key influencer of opinion in Washington along with that city's Washington Post.

Matthew Fink, the soon-to-be-retired president of the ICI said Wednesday at the trade group's annual General Membership meeting that he believes a rule requiring fund boards be headed by an independent director would be the most harmful rule enacted by the SEC. Yet, the New York Times editorial board does not feel such a rule would go far enough.

In the editorial published Friday, the paper calls for rules that would bar any former officer, employee or director of a fund management company from qualifying as "independent."

The paper also calls for the SEC to require the disclosure of independent directors' compensation and ties to the management in each fund's prospectus.

"Rather than lulling investors into a false sense of confidence by labeling board members 'independent,' let their biographies speak for themselves," states the editorial.  

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