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Fund Spy

Manager Question of the Month: On the Road Again?

Stock fund managers mull the value of post-pandemic travel.

Active equity managers want to start traveling again, but it isn't clear when and if they will travel for the same reasons as before. Morningstar manager research analysts recently asked the fund managers they regularly interview, "Do you have plans to travel to visit companies this year?" More than 20 equity managers responded and none of them said they had specific plans to travel in 2021. Only three said they thought they would travel at some point (call it a tepid "yes") but didn't have a definite time frame in mind.

These responses reflect the caution many people feel these days. More intriguing perhaps were the managers' musings on the value of traveling itself, whether to visit companies and/or to attend conferences. As in so many other areas of life, it seems like the changes brought about by the response to the coronavirus have pulled forward trends that were already in progress. That is, improving video conferencing technology made it likely managers would one day rethink the value of travel; the pandemic simply accelerated the change.