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Look Back at Mutual Funds in 2019

From Bogle and Ellenbogen to flows and acquisitions, it was a year of changes.

As 2019 winds down, most mutual fund investors can look back on what has been a pretty good year for the markets. Joining me to provide a recap of the top headlines in the mutual fund world is Russ Kinnel. He is Morningstar's director of manager research.


  • edited January 13
    “Benz: And one thing that we're continuing to see is just these massive inflows into very low-cost products” ....

    “Kinnel: Yeah, that story has continued. It's really been running since the bear market of '08-'09 when a lot of people gave up on active management, and we've really seen that grow as, obviously, the ETF industry has grown alongside that because ETFs have drawn a lot of that passive flows. An interesting wrinkle this year is we saw passive fixed income and passive foreign equity start to gain some traction, too, not nearly as much, but generally, those have remained the domain of active”

    Kinnel also comments on the Oppenheimer merger with Invesco. But he doesn’t seem as alarmed as I am. I hope no one here ever has the experience of seeing their B grade fund house where they’ve held Class A shares for nearly 25 years bought out and taken over by a larger C grade outfit (being generous here). Funds you’ve depended on for years disappear / are merged into the new owner’s funds. Even for those older funds that remain, management changes or is diluted. And the formerly excellent fund reports that kept you abreast of what your manager was thinking and doing (and enhanced your market perspective) are replaced by bland accouting statements lacking any narrative.
  • @hank: I'm sorry to hear of you're problem, so to speak. Did you stand pat or move on ? You've caught my ear & I would like to hear more .
    Have a good week, Derf
  • edited January 13
    Derf said:

    @hank: I'm sorry to hear of you're problem, so to speak. Did you stand pat or move on ? You've caught my ear & I would like to hear more .
    Have a good week, Derf

    Thanks Derf! (I wasn’t asking for sympathy.) :) Oppenheimer never had more than 10% of my assets. What they offered were some niche funds others didn’t. Some were gems / other clunkers. But when you’re with a house for a quarter century you accumulate a deep understanding of their offerings and operation that’s difficult to replicate elsewhere. So I miss their operation, even though it wasn’t the sharpest gang on the block in all respects.

    As far as “voting with one’s feet” - that’s all too easy to do in this day and age - often with just a few key strokes. And my fuse is as short (or shorter) than the next guy’s. To answer your question, I’m in the process of moving about one-third of my already small holdings at OPP/ Invesco to T. Rowe. What remains is mostly split between their miners’ fund (which has benefitted from gold’s uptick) and some cash. Also have a tad in an alternative fund there.

    The issue of fund house closings / mergers might have significance to the broader mutual fund community. My own issues were mentioned merely to represent what that circumstance might entail and how it might affect others. If you were dumb enough to pay a front load for those A shares 25 years ago (I was), than perhaps the “sting” is felt a bit sharper.
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