Fund manager departures can be difficult enough to manage even in the most extenuating circumstances and much significance is attached to them. Yet from my 20 odd years in the financial services industry, I'm yet to meet one 'star' fund manager who has ever claimed to be the sole performance driver behind their fund. Indeed, many go to great lengths to describe the experience of the team that sits alongside (not under) them, providing vital research and analysis, on a day-to-day basis.
So when and how did the 'star' fund manager culture begin? Has perhaps evolved from a blame or hero worship mentality? I don't know, but picking a fund because of a star name does seem strangely akin to picking a horse based on its jockey. You might be right some of the time but the overall performance of the horse is down to many more factors than simply who's in the driving seat. In fact, in most cases, the quality and performance capability is down to the stable as a whole.
I'm not saying that the Neil Woodford's and Anthony Bolton's of the world aren't great fund managers - they are, and I'm certain they have attributed much of their success to the teams behind them. Those that have worked tirelessly to help drive performance and learn the processes and philosophies alongside the best. The very teams that will eventually take the reigns of the fund in time.
It certainly helps to put names and faces to funds, more so now than ever in the digitally enhanced world we live in, but whilst some fund managers might show greater aptitude than others over the years, they're surely only as good as their supporting teams enable them to be?
So should we really attach such significance to fund management departures?
I'm sure there are as many examples to disprove my line of thought as there are examples to prove it but investment teams deserve their due credit.
The star fund manager culture is unlikely to change, even though many fund groups frown upon the whole concept. Whilst cultural change is hard to bring about, perhaps we might eventually at least progress to David Brent's pearl of wisdom: "There's no 'I' in team, but there is a 'me' if you look hard enough."
“In some cases, the reins are handed over to longstanding close colleagues of the departing manager – who plan to run the fund in much the same way, using the same processes and investment philosophy.