Fund Profitability is a Secret Even to Insiders
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Monday, October 09, 2006

Fund Profitability is a Secret Even to Insiders

Just how profitable is the typical fund firm? That is a question that fund directors seem unable to answer satisfactorily. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 100 financial services executives (a group that included 86 fund board members) found that one third of those running funds found assessing the reasonable profitability of the fund advisor to be a problem because of a lack of benchmarks.

That lack of data is frustrating many of those serving fund boards, Barry Benjamin, head of the U.S. investment-management practice at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, told the Wall Street Journal.

Adding to the pressure are new SEC rules that require fund boards to provide increased disclosure on how they evaluate and benchmark the funds' advisors.

While it's relatively easy to compare the performance of funds -- since such data are widely available -- it's harder to compare whether a fund manager's profit margin or costs are too high, because many fund families are privately owned and don't disclose these figures. "The more data you have, the more comfort you feel in making the decision," says Benjamin told the paper.

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