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looking for recommendations: new monthly feature

Dear friends,

A fair number of small fund managers write each month, asking if we'd write about their funds. Very often these are guys with a fair track record at another fund. Some left in frustration with their previous employer's single-minded focus on asset gathering, some were victims of downsizing, and some were pursuing a passion for running their own fund. Some folks have good success in getting noticed (Seafarer is over $30 million in nine months) and others have great success (Grandeur Peak rolled over a half billion in about a year). Many struggle to get any notice or to reach sustainable asset levels.

Chip, Accipiter & co. do remarkable work, and a remarkable amount of it, in making MFO run. I do almost all of the editorial content (Chip handles all the manager changes, Junior used to do funds in registration but is out of commission now) and I'm stretched a bit thin, which would make it hard to keep up with all the "could you check us out, please" requests.

That's background. I was imagining a new feature called "The Elevator Speech" in which I offered small fund managers 150 words. That is, about the amount you could say if one, slightly-manic minute in an elevator.

The feature might look like this:


Tom Kerr's Elevator Talk

Mr. Kerr manages the Rocky Peak Small Cap Value Fund (RPSCX), which launched on April 2, 2012. He co-managed RCB's Small Cap Value strategy and the CNI Charter RCB Small Cap Value Fund (formerly RCBAX, now CSCSX) fund. Tom offers these 150 words on why folks should check in:
Unedited text, not to exceed 150 words, follows
The fund's minimum inital invest is $10,000, reduced to $1,000 for IRAs and accounts set up with AIPs. The fund's website is Rocky Peak Funds . Tom's most-recent discussion of the fund appears in his September 2012 Semi-Annual Report.


Since the feature would be short, we would be able to do two or three a month if folks asked or we might limit ourselves to one.

Back at FundAlarm, we did a longer but related feature called "The Fund Manager's Corner" in which I sent a fund manager three questions suggested by folks on the board (what would you be doing if you weren't managing mutual funds? what did you learn from your biggest investing mistake? if there was one thing you could tell a young person choosing between funds and ETFs, what would it be?) and asked that s/he answer two. That might be an option. I suppose a feature called "launching a new mutual: three things that surprised me and two that might surprise you" would be possible.

It's a really hard time, even for folks with great experience and a sensible strategy. I'd like to help.

Any thoughts about what strikes you as most interesting or useful?

Curious, as ever,



  • edited January 2013
    I am of the opinion that you can only slice a pie so many ways and so many times before it (the slices or pieces) all begins to look the same. When I see promo's for a new fund the first questions that come to my mind are "How is this fund any different from all of the other similar funds? What is special or different about what you (the manager or management team) intend to bring to the management or investing process? Something unique there will generally get me to research further.
  • I agree with Mark, what is so special about another SCV Fund ? When it comes to the Rocky Peak Small Cap Value Fund, all I can say that since inception it's performance has been 'Rocky.'
  • That's an interesting idea, kind of like mega-Tweets!

    I really like David's regular Commentary reports on new funds and funds in the shadows, so I hope that this would not replace that reporting and his personal insights.

    I would think it would be better for these fund managers to be able to say whatever they wanted rather than only responding to members' questions. That way, they'll be able to make the case for why their funds are unique and not have to limit themselves to specific topics. (Perhaps there could be one, general guiding question, such as: In your elevator speech, tell our members what makes your fund stand out in the crowd?)

    At the end of each elevator speech, perhaps there could be the chance for MFO members to make comments like they do in the regular discussion areas. But also: could those fund managers be able to join those threads too if they wanted to, and respond to the readers? (Of course, there's no reason why they couldn't be MFO members themselves, right, and do this already? Or is there a MFO rule that members can't tout funds if they have a financial interest in the company?)
  • Reply to @Ginko: Hi, Ginko.

    This certainly wouldn't replace any of what we already do. It would be an add-on and, I hope, a relatively low-stress one.

    I'd be perfectly happy to do the mega-Tweet model. The only challenge in something interactive is that fund advisors have become twitchy on compliance issues and so they've been reluctant to allow their managers to interact with "regular folks."

    At the very least, I could transplant each elevator speech to the discussion board as soon as it goes live and I could share the link for that (potential) discussion with the fund manager.

    Still in the "just thinking out loud" phase.


  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Reply to @Ted: Hi, Ted.

    Rocky Peak was an illustration as much as a suggestion.

    And I'm not sure of how to think about 2012 for the SCV space. If you chart Rocky Peak against Pennsylvania Mutual or Aston River Road Independent Value you get very similar returns - all sub-par. Artisan Small Cap Value had an entirely horrendous year. I don't know if that's a sign that really smart managers are acting on something ahead of the crowd, or if it's normally fluctuations in returns, or what.


    As ever,

  • edited January 2013
    Well I really like the idea of the elevator pitch, but I'm afraid the folks at MFO probably won't budge the needle on assets. I tend to shy away from a fund if I am afraid that it won't be around in a few years. I think we should have some sort of hurdle before a manager can tout his fund. Good performance. Good past performance. I don't want to be inundated with tons of mediocre funds.

    Mr. Kerr's fund seems like the type of fund we are looking for (one that puts investors first). But there doesn't seem to be anything compelling. Since inception RPSCV has trailed all its benchmarks. The fund he managed before doesn't standout either.

    There is an interesting anecdote about the name:

    Rocky Peak is also the name of the mountain in Southern California where the Portfolio Manager of the Fund went on a mountain bike ride with an attractive girl he had recently met and happened to be an expert mountain bike rider. On that ride, she had a major life-threatening crash in which she suffered kidney damage and was helicoptered to the nearest emergency room. 12 months later the Portfolio Manager married the "lucky" girl.
  • edited January 2013
    Seems like a good idea to moi ... all I can think to suggest would be to add the expense ratio to the general-info template, encourage the managers to write in simple English and avoid financial jargon, and clearly communicate that this opportunity doesn't include an invitation to conduct marketing on the regular discussion pages. I agree that 150 words is about right for a brief explanation and case statement.
  • David, hi.

    If you were to supply us with such "elevator speeches" it would serve the purpose of putting some fund names in front of us that some may never had heard about. It could be very useful on that score. I prefer not to run with the pack. Others might feel the same way. That's why I've been avoiding Fido and Vanguard all these years. That seems useful.

    It would be up to the reader to read between the lines or interpret or to disbelieve whatever a fund manager's self-introduction might provide. Over the years, I've learned to "listen critically." I'm always "actively" listening as much for what's NOT mentioned, or might be deliberately twisted or obfuscated in the mentioning. (Like HerbaLife's Des Morris interview with Ms. Ruhle on Bloomberg yesterday. What a con artist. Master of lingual manipulation. Distributors are not really distributors. Might as well say, "Hello. My name is Des. That's spelled Y-T-M: Des.")

    Like Robt. McNamara said in "The Fog Of War:" "You never answer the question you're asked. Answer the question you WISH you were asked." But we all run into that virtually everywhere, anyhow. Come to think of it, that is precisely what advertising is, isn't it? The product is never presented the way it truly is. The product is presented in a way to convince me that I need it.

    Would it be worth the effort for you, though? Yes, I wouldn't mind hearing about the existence of some not-so-well-known funds. That's not an automatic endorsement by MFO, though, I take it. Thank you.
  • I would be interested in pitches by small fund managers but I am not sure 150 words will be enough. I think something like 2/3 of a page and you could fill the rest of the page with some fund facts (ER, minimum purchase etc.) and performance info and link to fund site.

    You have to have a cut-off like a billion fund assets or the like.
  • One of the benefits of MFO for me has been the introduction to new funds or managers that I have either missed or totally passed me by. Certainly David's analysis of such funds has been extremely helpful and the current series of interviews have added a new dimension to "getting to know the manager". So I believe it would be of value to introduce new funds on MFO but for me the question of why the manager has decided to go it alone e.g. Andrew Foster, how much of his/her own money is at risk, and how is this a "better mousetrap" than others in the category would give me the necessary input to investigate further or discard it. Having the ability to have the manager respond to a discussion thread on their presentation would also demonstrate to me the kind of manager who really does have the interest of investor at heart. Maybe difficult to achieve but better than offering a sanitized version of the prospectus. For what its worth.
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