Investor Options When Star Manager Leaves

Using the example of Henry Ellenbogen’s departure from T. Rowe Price at the end of this month, an article in Barron’s speaks to whether investors should “take your money and run” when a star manager leaves.

Although Ellenbogen is working toward a smooth transition with his successor, Josh Spencer, the article notes that “manager changes do pose risks to investors. For one, a new stockpicker may not execute the fund’s strategy as effectively.” Of more immediate concern, it says, is that fund outflows can increase when the star manager leaves, putting pressure on the manager’s replacement to sell stocks in order to meet shareholder redemptions. “It can also trigger capital-gain distributions, especially in a fund that has racked up unrealized gains for years.”

According to Morningstar director of fund research Russ Kinnel, “The institutional desire is for consistency,” and investors are likely to stick with the fund as long as style and strategy remain intact. The article notes that investors should monitor portfolio turnover and asset flows, which could affect performance and capital-gain distributions. “Funds run by investment committees or multiple managers aren’t as vulnerable to these risks,” the article says.

The article concludes that when a good manager is on the way out, investors should evaluate the following factors before deciding whether to stay or go: