From the Editor...
Are you curious—or confused—about what blockchain is and how it might be used in the mutual fund business? If so, you're not alone. It's a new, much-talked-about technology, and a lot is unknown about how it will be applied to different industries. To help directors make heads or tails of blockchain (and understand the difference between it and the digital currency often associated with it), Jay Baris and Nathan Greene from Shearman & Sterling have put together a primer on the subject. The piece provides a great starting point for conversations amongst mutual fund board members and between fund boards and advisers.
In the regulatory realm, the Securities and Exchange Commission staff has begun following through on promises to review the role and responsibilities of independent fund directors. The SEC earlier this month issued a no-action letter relieving boards of certain duties related to affiliated transactions—duties that have been deemed duplicative because they also are performed by compliance programs. In a speech to a group of directors, Division of Investment Management Director Dalia Blass discussed the no-action letter and provided details on her and her staff's progress thus far in reaching out to directors. The industry is now anxiously awaiting the regulator's next move.
Does your board have a mandatory retirement policy? Most do, according to industry research. But one that doesn't is the board overseeing Alliance Bernstein Funds, and the independent chair of that board explained the reasoning behind the policy of no policy in our most recent A Seat at the Table feature. It's definitely food for thought.
Finally, one of BlackRock's fund boards is gearing up for a change in leadership at the turn of the year as the current chair prepares to retire after decades of service to the fund group. We're sure we'll be reporting more similar moves in the weeks to come as we get closer to the end of the 2018. That is a regular end-of-year topic, but there are others we're following as well. Keep reading!
Hillary Jackson, founding editor