Get the scoop on your fund's handler
Financial experts say investors looking for a good manager should:
Check out rating services such as Value Line and Morningstar. Both agencies carefully track managers, and information can be found in their reports, as well as on the Morningstar Web site (www.morningstar.com).
Find out what the manager did during down markets. Generally, a good manager will outperform the market, even in adverse climates. His or her fund may be down at these times, but still beat the market.
Consider the contribution of a fund firm's research staff to managerial success. Large mutual-fund firms such as Fidelity, Janus, T. Rowe Price, and Vanguard carry enough research strength to keep a fund's operation going steady, even when the fund's manager departs or is reassigned.
Look for outside newsletters that critique managers at major fund companies. For example, the "Fidelity Investor" occasionally ranks and reviews Fidelity managers. Likewise, the "The Independent Adviser" keeps an eye on Vanguard managers.
Embrace co-manager teams. They tend to provide added expertise, particularly when the managers come from slightly different backgrounds, such as one being a "value" follower, the other a "growth" enthusiast.
Remember that very few managers are financial wizards. So look for solid managers who are consistent over time. Their very consistency may actually outpace the annual successes of the industry titans.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society