From the Editor...
Jamie Baxter will step off the Putnam Funds and Mutual Fund Directors Forum boards in a few weeks, marking the end of a long, successful run in the financial services industry. She'll be replaced by Kenneth Liebler and Kay Dryden, respectively, a move that, in her words, will allow "new, strong leadership [to] emerge." Before heading into retirement, Baxter was kind enough to share some reflections with us on her 50 years in the business and thoughts on how boards might look going forward. It's worth the read.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is allowing mutual funds to go paperless, a move much lauded by the industry, which has supported the idea since it first was proposed in 2015. Allowing shareholders to access reports on the internet will save costs and trees and it responds to younger investors, proponents said. It is, in the words of one commenter, an "essential step into the 21st Century."
In the courts, the questioning of what is and isn't protected by attorney-client privilege when it comes to communications between mutual fund board members and counsel has been a worrying trend of late. It started with a ruling two years ago in a 36(b) case against PIMCO, and since then several other plaintiffs have tried to convince the courts that privileged information should be turned over. Not a single court has followed the lead in the PIMCO case, and most recently, a judge ruled with the defendant in Kennis v. MetWest, by refusing to order MetWest's fund board to turn over privileged communications. This marked the third time a judge has sided with the defendant since the PIMCO case, and both boards and industry counsel are feeling some amount of comfort in that.
We've also recently brought readers some insight into the Diamond Hill Funds board, which does things a little differently from others, and the board-CCO relationship, which seems to be ever-evolving. Also, be sure to check out our Viewpoints section, which is chock full of useful—and often timeless—information for independent fund directors on subjects that range from cross trades to interval funds to D&O insurance to MiFID II to cybersecurity and cyber insurance. If there's a subject you know and about and would like to write about, let us know; if there's a subject you don't know about and want more information on, let us know—we'll find someone to write about it.
Hillary Jackson, founding editor