Robert Pozen, MFS Investment Management: The Extended 2011 IA 25 Profile

Pozen is a man who knows his way around the industry

This is an extended version of the profile that appeared in the May issue of Investment Advisor, part of AdvisorOne's Special Report profiling this year's members of the IA 25, the most influential people in and around the advisor universe. See the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles of all the 2011 members of the IA 25.

Not content to rest on his laurels as MFS Investment Management chairman emeritus, Bob Pozen is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Before his tenure at MFS—which in 1924 established America’s first open-end mutual fund, the Massachusetts Investors Trust—Pozen was vice chairman of Fidelity Investments and president of Fidelity Management & Research Co.

robert pozenIn short, he is a man who knows his way around the industry. That helps explain why this year Pozen (left) and co-author Theresa Hamacher published the painstakingly detailed "The Fund Industry: How Your Money Is Managed," a book providing such a thorough examination of how mutual funds are bought, sold and managed that it stands to become the fund industry’s bible.

"Just as veteran stock fund managers prize their tattered copies of Ben Graham and David Dodd's 'Security Analysis,' coming generations of fund industry leaders will cling to this essential text,” writes Morningstar Managing Director Don Phillips in the new book’s foreword.

Pozen himself is modest when discussing his reputation as an elder statesman and conscience of the industry. Asked during a recent AdvisorOne interview if all the salient points in his impressive resume are indeed accurate, Pozen joked, “I’m afraid they are.”

The mutual funds guru is serious, however, when discussing retirement issues such as target-date funds and Social Security.

“I think that target-date funds are inferior to balanced funds,” he said in the interview, when considering how employers must provide a default option now that companies are automatically enrolling employees in retirement funds.

A registered Democrat who was a classmate of Hillary Rodham Clinton at Yale Law School, Pozen has gained a reputation for working both sides of the aisle in his efforts to secure a comfortable retirement for all Americans. In 2003, Pozen served as secretary of economic affairs for Massachusetts’ Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, and in 2005 President Bush called him his favorite “Democrat economist” when Pozen recommended using progressive indexing that favors low-wage workers to cut the Social Security deficit.

"I consider myself a middle-of-the-road guy who tries to be carefully nonpartisan on this issue," Pozen told The New York Times in 2005. "I believe passionately in Social Security reform."

More recently, Boston’s news media have named Pozen as a strong candidate to present a serious challenge to Sen. Scott Brown in 2012. Calling Pozen “a legend in the investment world,” the Boston Herald said that he may very well have the guts, money and electability to take on the Republican senator who won Edward Kennedy’s seat in a 2010 special election.

Pozen himself is characteristically reasonable on the matter of a political candidacy, telling Reuters in March that he wouldn’t run for Senate “unless the Democratic Party asks me to, if they want someone who is socially liberal and fiscally disciplined.” But if the party wants a confrontational figure to take on Brown next year, Pozen said, “then they shouldn’t choose me because I won’t be that type of candidate.”

Don't see someone on this year's IA 25 that you think belongs there? Submit their name and your justification for why they should be considered among the most influential people in and around the advisor universe in the Comments field below. We promise to consider reader nominations, but please, no ad hominem attacks on those who were named in this or past years.--Ed.

Reprints Discuss this story
This is where the comments go.