From the Editor...
The turn of the year is usually a busy time for mutual fund boards, as they wrap up what business they can and often face personnel changes—directors retiring off and newcomers entering the boardroom. Certainly, this year is no different.
In the past couple of weeks, we've reported on developments in the boardrooms at Invesco Funds, DBX ETF Trust, and PIMCO Funds. Some of the changes taking place on these fund boards is the result of planned retirements, but the DBX ETF Trust board found itself without a chairman when the trust's CEO resigned. As a result, Steve Byers, who was lead independent director, has become the first-ever independent chairman of DBX ETF Trust. Invesco Funds, on the other hand, is facing a series of retirements as a number of long-serving members reach the board's mandatory retirement age. It has nominated four new directors, who will be voted on by shareholders in early 2017, while PIMCO will lose its first-ever LID at its first-quarter meeting in February.
As the industry's longer-serving directors begin to age off their boards, the makeup of individuals serving in boardrooms is changing. At Invesco, for instance, three of the four nominees are female; provided shareholders approve them, that board will be comprised 30% of women by the end of the first quarter. With an industry average around 20%, Invesco is ahead of the game. It'll be interesting to watch how other boards change as they begin to fill emptying seats over the next several years.
In the legal arena, there have been quite a few developments in 36(b) litigation in the past several weeks, with the case against Hartford Investment Financial Services finishing up in court and scheduling closing arguments for January, an appeal filed in the AXA case, the case against Russell Investments Management just barely surviving summary judgment, two other cases settling, and a judge ruling that the adviser and board in a case against PIMCO must turn over documents they claimed were protected by attorney-client privilege. Most of the these recent developments have given a boost to defense-side optimism that this years-long wave of excessive fees cases may be poised to taper off—and possibly stop altogether.
In our Added Perspective section, check out PWC's 2016 Annual Corporate Directors Survey. It may provide some insight into how fund boards can improve the way they do things.
Fund Board Views will not publish during the weeks of Dec. 19 and 26. We'll be back after the New Year's holiday, on Tuesday, Jan. 3. This time of year is perfect for enjoying family and friends—and downtime. Take advantage of it, and stay safe. We'll see you in 2017.
Hillary Jackson, founding editor, Fund Board Views