From the Editor...
There has been a fair amount written in the general financial press about the Securities and Exchange Commission's recent response to the European Union's Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II). The SEC's three no-action letters buy some time for U.S. broker-dealers and investment advisers and clarify how MiFID II may be interpreted by the U.S. regulator, at least for the time being.
What does all this have to do with U.S. mutual fund directors, you ask? Well, not a lot for most boards, but it is something of which directors should be aware and certainly a subject worth broaching with advisers. With that in mind, Jay Baris of Morrison & Foerster has written a primer for independent directors who are trying to get to grips with the regulation and its relevance. The piece makes MiFID II easy to understand and bottom lines its potential impact on U.S. players—as well as providing U.S. fund directors with a short list of suggested questions that can get a conversation started in the boardroom.
Speaking of boardrooms, the directors overseeing Franklin Templeton's exchange-traded funds have gotten an expanded mandate with the launch earlier this month of 16 Franklin FTSE ETFs. The Franklin Templeton complex has several different boards overseeing groups of funds, with some overlap among members. In late October, a new independent director joined two of boards to oversee at least 130 Franklin Templeton funds.
Serving on a board is not a task to be taken lightly, directors and fund governance professionals maintain. In fact, the Independent Directors Council believes boards are overburdened with duties that should be delegated or abolished altogether—and they've called on the new director of the SEC's Division of Investment Management, Dalia Blass, to conduct a review with that in mind. Last spring, Mutual Fund Directors Forum made a similar call directly to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.
Be sure to check out PWC's 17th Annual Corporate Directors Survey in our Added Perspective section. Although not focused on mutual fund boards, it contains some very interesting and useful information on governance and corporate board practices.
We recently celebrated our second anniversary as the market's only all-digital news service exclusively focused on independent mutual fund directors. It's been great serving this market for the past 24 months, and we're looking forward to the years ahead! Thank you for reading Fund Board Views.
Hillary Jackson, founding editor