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Rating:Seen & Heard at the MFWire 2011 Influencers' Summit Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, October 7, 2011

Seen & Heard at the MFWire 2011 Influencers' Summit

Reported by Hung Tran

Boston played host to the MutualFundWire 2011 Influencers Summit: See 2020 this week.

Speakers and attendees alike buzzed about the implications of Touchstone's planned purchase of Old Mutual's $2 billion U.S. mutual fund family, which was unveiled Tuesday. And at least one fundster hinted at the Hartford recently aborted efforts to sell its mutual fund business, which use Wellington and another arm of the Hartford as subadvisors.

When It Comes to B-Ds, 'Align With the Expected Winners, in the Consolidation Trend'

Sanjiv Mirchandani, president of Fidelity's giant clearing and broker-dealer support arm, National Financial, wowed attendees Tuesday afternoon with an in-depth look at the state of the B-D and investor worlds.

"We're seeing lots of restructuring, culling, looking at strategic options, efficiency cost plays," Mirchandani said, pointing to the "wave of regulation that's coming."

"It's only going to increase the pressure on profit margins and the minimum required scale to operate a broker-dealer," he added. "You want to align with the expected winners in the consolidation trends ... And think of your product development as how you can help the 'new normal' investor."

Fundsters 'Still Have a Lot to Do' in Terms of Marketing

On a Wednesday afternoon panel led by Wechsler Ross & Partners Dan Ross and alongside Christy White of Cogent Research and Stephen Ban of Nuveen, JPMorgan's Richard Chambers warned attendees that "from a marketing perspective, we still have an awful lot to do as an industry."

"You have to stand for something," Chambers said, pointing to the success of Vanguard's emphasis on low-cost efficiency. "There has to be a belief, an organizing principle."

"To be really successful as a brand, you have to live that throughout the organization," Ban agreed, "Build an organization that's all about the brand."

"Performance becomes the table stakes," White added. "At some point in time, you have to differentiate yourself."

MutualFundWire On My Mind

A bullish Bob Reynolds, president of Putnam Investments[see profile], on Wednesday shared an optimistic view of where he sees the US going in the next 10 years in terms of the capital markets, demographics and the "race to solvency.".

However, Reynolds began his speech noting that he started his career at Fidelity[see profile] in 1984, at the same time Sean Hanna, publisher, president and editor-in-chief of MFWire.com, began his journalism career. An attendee on the sideline noted that this was Reynold's third difference speech at three different venues within the same week. Kudos to Reynolds and Putnam's speech writing team!

In a session on Tuesday, Avi Nachmany, director of research at Strategic Insight, chided Hanna for "believing what you write," referring to Hannah's comments about Pimco's [see profile] advancement into the equities market, leading to a few loud chuckles from the audience.

And Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto, took the stage on Wednesday to accept his MFWire Innovator award. Mansueto noted MFWire's leading place among mutual funds pubs and data source and said that he'll be back to attend next year's summit.

Some Star-Driven Shops Still Blaze Brightly

Speaking Wednesday morning on a panel with Calamos Investments chief John Calamos, DoubleLine Funds chief Ron Redell pushed back against the notion that 'the star manager is dead'.

"It helps to have a star manager ... Investors, they want a Tom Brady running their portfolio," Redell told conferees. (Redell's firm launched in December 2009 and now has $17 billion in assets under management, including $13 billion in its mutual funds.) "Performance is important, but I think what investors are looking for is leadership. The light in the lighthouse is insight during those storms."

Calamos, who has built his firm into a $37-billion AUM, 340-person, publicly traded asset manager, warned attendees that nothing in this business stays the same for long.

"The business continues to change. You always find those people that think it's not going to change," Calamos said. "A business is like riding a bike uphill -- if you stop peddling, you're going the wrong way."

Neil Anderson contributed to this article. 

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