September 19, 2006
First a little history is in order.
My employer selected the MFS family of funds to invest our 401K contributions because it was a rock solid company with years of experience and success.
It wasn't hard to keep an online portfolio for each of the funds based on Morningstar's quarterly publication of the funds top 10 holdings. Most days when the market closed those top holdings would pretty much reflect how the NAV would come out in the evening.
If the top holdings had a collective gain of 2% the NAV would generally follow suit. Likewise on down days.
Though not the most scientific analysis I found that if I kept updating the top holdings as they were published the electronic portfolio furnished by Motley Fool held consistently true.
Until mid 2000 through much of 2001.
Somedays the differences would be staggering.
The .COM balloon was bursting and volatility was high.
Perhaps the fund was turning over more and the top holdings were no longer fresh enough information for an accurate guage?
I did speak with our fund administrator who in turn steered me to our brokerage intermediary who had no explanation for my queries other than it must be turnover and my imaginiation was running away with me. Nothing was safer than mutuel funds.
Soon after a story circulated about an MFS employee trying to get the attention of the SEC Boston office. They were trying to sound the late trading alarm but no one would listen.
The rest is now a matter of record.
MFS had decided to let Edward Stern and Canary Capital among others treat their funds like a private piggy bank.
They traded after the bell at will and their enourmous profits came entirely at the expense of retail shareholders.
It is not much of a stretch to believe that had not certain Attorneys General taken up the cause this might still be going on.
At least this time there would be some justice.
A fair fund was established in Nov. 2004 and a plan would be out in 90 days.
This quickly became a running joke as it took more than two years past the original intent to get a plan published.
All that time to stew about how MFS abandoned its fiduciary responsibities to me and got away with a slap on the wrist.
A $225mm fine to a behemoth house like MFS is snack food money. How would this change their corporate mentality?
Is it any wonder that year in and year out whenever scandal breaks the same names come up over and over again?
All that time to stew over how on earth Stern walked away unscathed with my money in his pocket. How is it he escaped without being a major part of the fund.
Quarter after quarter passed and the only thing the SEC had to say was the plan will be out soon.
All that time to stew and when the plan finally came out a laymen had to sift through 90+ pages only to find a formula that meant nothing. There was still no way to ascertain how much was taken and how much would be coming back to me.
How can one comment on the fairness of the plan when one has no idea what the compensation is?
And alas the unkindest cut of all is the announcement left out any mention of the Emerging Growth fund. Surely this was just an oversight? After all from the outset this was the fund at the center of it all.
But there is is 70 pages later.
The IDC has found Emerging Growth was not victimized.
You get nothing.
Nothing to support that determination.
All those exhibits and nothing to back it up?
All those exhibits and nothing to show what days which funds were raided?
No summary of any kind that spells out how much was taken in total per fund and how many shares are in the total pie.
Way to go SEC.
I know my confidence is restored.
I couldn't be more confident after this report that 5.5% CD's are the only way to fly.