If the outcry that always follows the annual publishing of Forbes' 400 wealthiest Americans illustrates anything about the investment management industry, it's that investors have a love-hate relationship with their money managers.
The list, as syndicated financial columnist Chet Currier has observed, includes about 25 individuals from the investment management industry and it's hardly surprising that names like Edward "Ned" and Abigail Johnson of Fidelity Investments and Mario Gabelli of Gamco Investors rank prominently. And that an investor has filed a lawsuit against Gabelli for what they consider excessive pay is hardly surprising either.
But what's really interesting, Currier offers, is how investors consistently clamor for better performance from their particular investment vehicle and then complain when that success translates into a big salary for its manager. It's a dilemma that, unlike any other big-money industry, is rooted in the fact that it involves the use of other people's money.
"We want our money manages to be sharks in the fierce environment of the markets - but sharks on our behalf, not their own," he wrote. "This can lead to confused expectations, poorly calibrated incentives and all sorts of other trouble."
It's also leading more and more people to index funds, he added, and if that trend continues it could spell trouble for even the most astute money managers.