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Management Shakeup at Columbia Acorn Funds

We've put the Acorn funds under review.

Gretchen Rupp and William Samuel Rocco, 05/01/2015

The Columbia Acorn funds are Under Review following organizational changes announced April 30, 2015. Columbia Acorn ACRNX portfolio manager and domestic chief investment officer Rob Mohn will retire in 2015's fourth quarter.

Though experienced people remain, Mohn's unexpected departure further thins the leadership ranks at the firm that saw its prior president and CIO, Chuck McQuaid, retire last year. Several analysts also exited at the end of 2013.

Mohn has been with Columbia Wanger for more than 20 years and has comanaged Columbia Acorn since 2003, serving as the lead manager after McQuaid stepped down. Columbia Acorn has returned 9.5% annually during Mohn's tenure through April 30, 2015, compared with its benchmark's 9.6% return. However, a recent slump spurred about 40% of assets to be withdrawn during the last 12 months.

Zach Egan will continue as the firm's president and expand his international CIO responsibilities as global CIO of the firm. Columbia Wanger also announced that Egan and Fritz Kaegi will join David Frank as portfolio managers on the mid-cap growth Columbia Acorn, effective May 1, 2015. Egan will continue as a lead manager of Columbia Acorn International LAIAX while stepping down from Columbia Acorn Emerging Markets CAGAX. Kaegi has managed Columbia Emerging Markets since 2011. Frank has comanaged Columbia Acorn since January 2014.

Columbia Acorn Select ACTWX and Columbia Acorn International Select LAFAX both got new comanagers effective May 1, with Matthew Szafranski joining Rob Chalupnik on the former and Andreas Waldburg-Wolfegg joining Chris Olson on the latter. And at Columbia Acorn USA AUSAX, on which Mohn also worked, comanager Bill Doyle will assume the lead role upon Mohn's retirement.

The personnel changes come amid other developments. A new chief operating officer, Alan Berkshire, joined the firm this week, and seasoned team member Harold Lichtenstein filled a new risk and performance manager position last September. The firm's international and domestic research teams also have begun to operate as one group rather than separately, and analysts no longer run their own sleeves of Columbia Acorn, where the portfolio managers are now in control of all weightings and trades.


Gretchen Rupp is an analyst covering fund-of-funds strategies on Morningstar’s manager research team. 

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