From the Editor...
It's the start of a new calendar year, and there is a lot of movement on boards and in the industry. When a director retires or leaves the board for another reason, it often prompts an assessment of skills among the remaining members. Filling an empty seat is no easy feat these days, as funds have become more complex and directors' jobs more demanding and complicated, and boards generally do not take this task lightly. Once a new director is selected, the onboarding process is the next important step; it takes time to get up to speed on fund governance in general and the specifics of the fund group being overseen. Luckily, there is no shortage of resources to help with this process.
Both Morgan Stanley Funds and Advisors Series Trust have brought new directors into the boardroom recently, each selecting individuals with deep experience in the mutual fund industry. And at John Hancock Funds, there hasn't been a new hire, but there has been a shuffling of seats as James Oates stepped back from his duties as independent chair and Hassell McClellan has assumed those responsibilities. The transition has been seamless, and Oates remains an active member of the board; he won't hit mandatory retirement age for another eight years.
Meanwhile, Independent Directors Council is developing a program for new directors that is expected to launch in September. IDC's Amy Lancellotta says the program is an extension of what the group has been offering for years and will encompass online, in-person and written materials. Staying abreast of the latest developments in fund governance and the mutual fund industry more generally—via news source, bespoke programming from IDC, Mutual Fund Directors Forum and others, and other resources—is an important part of overseeing mutual funds.
Speaking of industry moves, the revolving door at the Securities and Exchange Commission continues to turn. Buddy Donohue, who served as Investment Management Division director from 2006 to 2010, has wrapped up his second stint at the agency. He left when his boss, Mary Jo White, left at the end of President Obama's administration earlier this month. He's taking a (most likely much-needed) vacation, and we'll all be watching to see what he does next.
Finally, the industry continues to watch the excessive fees case against Hartford Investment Financial Services, which is only the second alleging violations of Section 36(b) of the '40 Act to go to trial. Closing arguments in Kasilag v. Hartford were rescheduled earlier this month and will take place on Wednesday.
We're here as a resource, bringing readers all they need to know about what's happening in the fund governance space. Let us know how we're doing—by email or phone. We'd love to hear from you!
Hillary Jackson, founding editor, Fund Board Views