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Fund Forward

Harrington Reemerges to Speak About Fund Scandal & Source of Her Courage

It's been four years since Noreen Harrington has appeared on the scene, but she recently spoke before an industry group on why she blew the whistle on the market timing and late trading at Canary Capital, setting off the shocking scandal that rocked the fund industry, cost it $5 billion in fines and nearly tarnished its reputation forever.

In hearing her tale, one can only marvel at how incredibly brave she was to take on Edward J. Stern, Canary principal and son of Leonard Stern, one of the most powerful and, worth $3 billion, richest magnates in New York.

Certainly, it hasn't been easy for Harrington since she tipped off former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer promised he would take her name to his grave, but when an intrepid reporter told her he would out her, she stepped forward. That day, Spitzer sent a car to meet Harrington in the basement of her building and hired an armed guard to protect her for months.

"It's been brutal," she told "60 Minutes" not long after. "People on the Street have been hurt by this. I fully expect doors to close to me. Whistleblower is such a negative term. If we want to send investors a message that we're looking out for them, then I should still be employable. But people don't want to hire you because instead of applauding your ethics and integrity, they say they can never really trust you."

That certainly was true for Harrington. In the first two years after the scandal, she couldn't find work. In 2005, she started her own hedge fund and now is finally a managing partner with another outfit.

In her recent speech, before the Edmonton CFA Society, Harrington said what finally gave her the courage to turn informant was the realization of how the timing and late trading was jeopardizing millions of people's retirement.

"In this industry," she said, "we deal with huge numbers. A lot of times it's not very human. You forget that it represents the firemen and the teachers, and the money we manage is their life's work."

(c) 2007 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Recent Posts

Mutual Funds Must Go High-Tech-v. 3.0

Over the last number of years, mutual fund transfer agencies and shareholder communications companies have tried to convince shareholders to accept paperless summary prospectuses, proxies, trade confirmations and electronically stamped signatures. Fund supermarkets and web home pages have broadened their horizons to include market commentary, videostreaming and personal financial news. At the same time, exchange-traded funds, funds-of-funds, hedge FoFs, unified managed accounts, target dates, 401(k) auto enrollment and heightened awareness among people throughout the country of the difficulties of being retired-have taken off.

Test of the Massey Mine

Fund giant boards of directors at AllianceBernstein, American Funds, Fidelity, Vanguard and others are reportedly starting to bring about meaningful change in the corporations in which they are invested. Proof should come any day now, when the shareholder proxy votes from the annual meetings are released. Fund chief executive officers spoke about the power and influence their proxies wield in an interesting Reuters article last week, "Mutual Funds Seek to Shed 'Rubber Stamp' Tag."

Milestones

In 2011, 401(k) plans will turn 30, but the milestones the mutual fund industry has reached in this time are but a nanosecond in the history of U.S. retirement policy. Executives we interviewed for this special edition of Money Management Executive for the Investment Company Institute's meeting in Washington, speak to important milestones of the recent past and into the future. Look inside for observations and forecasts by Ted Benna, Robert L. Reynolds, Dan Fuss, David C. John, Steven Miyao and others.

At Age 30, It's Time for a Revamping for the 401(k)

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the 401(k), the revolutionary retirement savings vehicle that has been annihilating pension plans, empowering individuals to take part in the stock market-and, sadly, that left retirees with the misfortune of leaving the workforce in 2000 or 2008 very badly off. The cracks in the system are prompting many asset managers, regulators and retirement experts to take a hard look at 401(k)s and how they can be fixed.

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Lee Barney

Lee Barney served as editor of Money Management Executive from 2002 to 2010. Previously, at United Media’s Wall Street & Technology magazine and Risk/Waters Information Services, she covered financial IT. For TheStreet.com, she wrote the daily “Meet the Street” column covering a broad spectrum of market-moving events. Lee began her career as a reporter in Tokyo with The Japan Times and was executive editor of Spotlight magazine.