Managing the Managers

Ah, yes, the bottom line. How do you evaluate investment managers' performance? Can you get help to monitor your managers? At what points do you have reason to express concerns-and when would you fire someone? This article sums up some guiding principles offered by several experienced investment consultants. When it comes to evaluating performance in a financial advisory, there's oversight as a noun ("letting my manager invest 15 percent of my portfolio in one company was an oversight") and oversight as a verb ("I'll never be an expert on mid-cap international offerings, but if I don't oversee this manager's performance relative to his peers, who else will?). Just as the parts of your portfolio subject to frequent monitoring and strategic change are considered to be under "active management," money managers are most likely to adhere to your goals when they are under your active oversight. Critical to the evaluation of any manager's performance is the creation (at the outset of your relationship) of an Investment Policy Statement, clearly establishing your financial and social goals and an agreed upon strategy for achieving them. Typically such statements stipulate guidelines for asset allocation and set benchmarks for performance, usually pegged to the same investment style indices.