From the Editor...
We are just back from Orlando, where we attended the Investment Company Institute's 2016 Mutual Funds and Investment Management Conference. The Sunday-Wednesday event was chock full of great content, and the opportunity to catch up with so many industry friends was fantastic. We've written a couple stories on the highlights—editorially speaking—of MFIMC and tweeted quite a bit out during the event. Please read the stories on our website, and check our Twitter feed, @FundBoardViews, to get a flavor of the conference. Also, you can search the conference hashtag, #MFIMC, on Twitter for an even broader view from folks who attended. We're looking forward to seeing many of you at the next industry confab, Mutual Fund Directors Forum's 2016 Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 29-30.
At MFIMC, there was plenty of talk about the Securities and Exchange Commission and what is expected of mutual fund boards. Agency representatives seem to be stressing lately what they expect from directors—and it's not day-to-day management, according to Division of Investment Management Director David Grim. One of the agency's goals, according to Diane Blizzard, associate director of rulemaking in the Division, is to "make things better for the board." To that end, Grim and Blizzard say, the SEC is putting out regular investment guidance—including an update on fund risk disclosure last week—and continuing to encourage the industry to provide feedback on rule proposals and other issues. "We hear you," Grim asserted during his keynote address at MFIMC.
Of course, there remains some contention in the relationship between the SEC and the fund industry. But perhaps the tone is starting to change.
On the legal front, Northstar Financial Advisors Inc. v. Schwab Investments is headed back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after being dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh (again). The industry is watching this case closely, and boards are continuing with efforts to lessen their vulnerability to similar cases brought by the plaintiffs' bar. The industry also is awaiting the judge's ruling in the first-ever 36(b) case to make it to trial, Sivolella v. AXA Equitable Life Insurance Co. Closing arguments are not scheduled until May 23, however, so the wait won't be short.
Meanwhile, the TCW Funds board has an open seat, and the board overseeing Goldman Sachs Asset Management's multi-manager funds has increased in size. Also, be sure to check out our latest Viewpoints column, a primer on how to best manage the relationship between the fund board and the chief compliance officer by Goodwin Procter's Marco Adelfio.
Hillary Jackson, founding editor, Fund Board Views