This column is an insider's column.
Not in the sense of Moneyball’s baseball scouts being insiders. Those insiders argued on the basis of expert insight. The scouts believed that their judgments were more accurate than the data that outsiders could gather and analyze. Thus, the scouts' views were offered up not to spark discussion, but to end it.
This column is a different version of insider. This column is about sharing experiences. I've been a fund researcher at Morningstar for 25 years. Much of my time has been spent attending investment conferences, meeting with portfolio managers, reviewing investment publications, talking with reporters, and swapping notes with consultants, advisors, professors, and fund company executives. That's a good background for putting today's investment stories into perspective.
Which is what this column will do--put today's investment stories into perspective. It will comment on the latest headlines, trends, and opinion. A recent fund launch might be like a launch that occurred in 1994, and again in 2001, and again in 2005. What happened to that fund's predecessors? An article dings retirement plans for being costly. How costly are they? Were they once cheaper? What should we expect going forward? A new academic paper is circulating. How relevant are its findings for investors? Did the professor miss something?
You might disagree with my take. You might be right. The purpose of this column is not to overwhelm you with my quarter-century of wisdom. It is instead to offer context and to lead to conversations. Many years back, in the mid- and late 1990s, I wrote a version of this column on Morningstar.com. It was for a time the most widely visited section of the site and attracted terrific comments from thoughtful readers. I don't expect the former to reoccur, but I'd be delighted if collectively we achieve the latter.