Friday, June 02, 2006

Is It Time for a New Kind of Mutual Fund?

Corporate chicanery lately seems to know no bounds. The Cunning Realist.

I think it was NPR that had an article a few months back regarding the issue. That article traced this increase in corporate chicanery to mutual funds. It went something like this:

As "normal" people began dumping x% of their pay into mutual funds, they hoped that they could just ignore the funds until they were ready for retirement.

The financial industry has had a field day with this. For them, the less attention people payed to these huge sums of money, the better. Even if individuals wanted to dump a stock because of board misdeeds, they often own the company as part of a mutual fund and not an independent stock.

So here's my idea: How about the best of both worlds? I propose a mutual fund that provides investors with a web-based interface that allows them to choose which stocks in the fund they do not want their funds invested in.

I know, the whole point of a mutual fund is that you hire someone else to cover these details for you. As we have seen above, there are shortcomings to this arrangement.

What if, as a Humbug Mutual Fund owner, I could log onto the HMF site and see a list of all companies that are currently owned by the fund. If Company X had really peeved me by giving their CEO a fat bonus while grinding up impoverished children in Africa to add as a main ingredient in their product, I could go to the HMF site, click the button next to 'Company X' and vote that my "share" of Company X holdings should be liquidated and reinvested in the other remaining companies.

Yes, I know, this is a childish view that is impractical to implement and ignores the practicalities of modern mutual funds and how they work. But how many people would dump money in the fund if someone were to get it to work? I know I would.

The ultimate Socially Responsible mutual fund.

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