The 1980s were the good old days for mutual funds, when their world was fresh and profitable and star managers celebrated their success with company parties in Disney World.
That was then. Now, in stark contrast, worried executives gather in business conference rooms to talk about how tough it is these days to run a mutual fund company.
Such was the case Tuesday, when the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) hosted its annual Strategic and eCommerce Summit in New York, bringing industry leaders together to talk about the economic pressures they face and how to overcome the challenges that hound them on all sides.
‘Are We in Year 5 of a 20-Year Decline?’
“Are we in year five of a 20-year decline in the mutual fund industry? Are we the General Motors of finance?,” asked Boston Consulting Group partner Gary Shub (left) during his presentation on structural versus cyclical changes in asset management.
To survive, mutual fund companies may want to view themselves as “parts providers” to advisors and wealth managers, who are the gatekeepers to client assets, Shub said. Mutual fund companies are now “in denial” about this new role, he added, but said they would do well to figure out ways to package solutions with proprietary input.
“The relationship with the advisor as opposed to the product provider has become much more important to investors,” Shub said. “Clients look to their advisors in a more meaningful way to help them sort through their investment decisions.”
John Hancock Funds President and Chief Executive Keith Hartstein, treasurer of the MFEA Executive Committee, spent a few moments reminiscing with audience members about where they were during the good times of 1986, when the John Hancock Strategic Income Fund (JHFIX) was launched.