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High Fees Put Mutual Fund Manager in Spotlight

A New York Times article criticizes a fund manager who it says charges high fees without regard to fund performance. The manager and certain of the funds appear to be industry outliers in some ways. For instance, the flagship fund’s fee is a third higher than the median for comparable funds based on Morningstar data, the New York Times reported. Further, the manager’s compensation includes an incentive from the firm that is partly based on the amount of fees brought in by the funds -- an unusual compensation structure in the industry.The article was also critical of the fund’s board, noting its long-serving members, and implied that fund boards generally are prone to laxity in their oversight of funds. The management company told the New York Times that it regularly assessed its board’s effectiveness and that the long tenure of some members was a sign of the board’s experience and expertise. The company also said fees were approved via data and analysis from an outside party and that the fund’s board was represented by an independent lawyer.  The article has drawn much attention as well as cynical views. One commentator observed that a “sense of entitlement is regrettably common” when it comes to fund managers who charge high fees.Meanwhile, Bloomberg is reporting that asset managers’ pay will come under pressure in 2018 as the industry continues to face rising costs and increased competition from passive funds. Bloomberg cited a study from Greenwich Associates which found that while average pay rose a projected 7 percent in 2017, the impact of cost constraints is already starting to show.The study warned that fund managers should brace themselves for tough compensation negotiations in 2018, according to Bloomberg.

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