Will More Funds be Paying Rent Overseas Soon?
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Monday, February 01, 2010

Will More Funds be Paying Rent Overseas Soon?

Will smaller mutual fund firms be opening more offices outside of the United States? The Wall Street Journal's Michael Pollack suggests that increasing flows to international equity mutual funds may cause some fund advisors to find new real estate.

Indeed, the number of world stock funds followed by Morningstar has doubled to 225 from 2005, the paper reports.

Waddell & Reed and Wasatch Advisors are two fund firms that told the paper they are considering such a move. Meanwhile, executives at Thornburg and Scout Investments said that they are happy to pay rent only in the United States.

Waddell's Michael Avery, president and chief investment officer of the fund business, told the paper that the firm may need to open an office outside of the United States (currently, all of the investment staff are in Kansas City).

"Our business is becoming 24/7, and the difference in time zones is what kills you," Avery told the paper.

Meanwhile, Wasatch Advisors fund manager Robert Gardiner told the paper that the firm may open a London office to go with its Salt Lake City headquarters. That move would be despite the rift that opened in the firm wen it opened a second U.S. office (it eventually closed that office).

Making the London office more palatable may be the plan to have Gardiner be its sole resident.

On the other side of the coin, Thornburg Investment Management CEO and CIO Brian McMahon said that the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based firm has no plans to move staff to foreign cities. One key reason is that McMahon wants staff to have face-to-face discussions.

At Kansas City, Mo.-based Scout Investment Advisors portfolio manager James Moffett does not foresee the opening of a foreign office "anytime soon" he tells the paper.

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