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Shareholders of  FMI Large Cap (FMIHX) could have been forgiven if they thought the fund had gone on a hiring spree in early 2009. Virtually overnight, the fund listed a half dozen or so more portfolio managers. But these weren't new hires. Rather, executives at the fund's advisor, Fiduciary Management Inc., wanted to highlight the fact that the stock selection and research is done by a team of analysts. They also wanted to recognize the analysts' contributions to the entire research process. Analysts at FMI are generalists--they are not tied to specific sectors or industries--and they are collectively involved in every buy and sell decision made in the portfolio.

This total-team approach is different than the sector-aligned structures of most firms, and it is a key driver of this fund's and sibling  FMI Common Stock's (FMIMX) success. Because they study many different industries, FMI's analysts are able to contribute to the debate of whether a stock should be included in the firm's compact portfolios. FMI doesn't compensate analysts based on the performance of their picks. Rather, it's the quality of their ideas and insights that count.

Milwaukee: Home of the Boutique
Milwaukee might not be the financial hub that is Chicago, but it is home to a handful of strong-performing boutique asset managers. One of the best is FMI, which Don Wilson and Ted Kellner founded in 1980. (They had worked together at in-town rival Nicholas Co.) The next year, in 1981, the firm launched its flagship fund, FMI Common Stock, which has delivered one of the best long-term records in the mid-blend category. In January 2002, the firm opened FMI Large Cap, which has followed in its sibling's footsteps, becoming the envy of its large-blend peers.

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Andrew Gogerty does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.