Vanguard Not on Vanguard
January 18, 2013
It all started with Goldman Sachs, which began publishing the daily market value of the assets held in its money market mutual funds in the United States on January 9.
Then, BlackRock, J.P. Morgan, Fidelity Investments, Federated Investors and Charles Schwab & Co. followed suit saying they will publish the value of the assets in their money funds every day, as well.
Here's the official line from Nancy Prior, president of Money Markets for Fidelity:
"Providing more frequent disclosure of these minute changes will help investors better understand how vigilant we are in keeping our money market mutual funds safe and in maintaining the $1.00 NAV, which has always been and continues to be our #1 objective in managing these funds."
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which waged a public battle with the industry and its watchdog group, the Investment Company Institute, even lauded the firms' resolve for greater transparency.
According to spokesman John Nester: "Chairman [Elisse] Walter is encouraged when industry voluntarily takes steps to provide greater transparency for investors."
However, the growing list of transparent money market funds does not include the Vanguard Group, which says it does not intend to follow the herd on this issue. In a statement to Money Management Executive, John Woerth, a Vanguard spokesman, wrote: "We have not seen an increased demand for more frequent disclosure from our clients, who are primarily retail investors. Given the small degree of fluctuation and lack of demand from our clients, Vanguard has no plans to increase the frequency of money market fund NAV disclosure."
So a firm built on the premise of communicating "candidly" with its investors about investment risks and costs, in keeping with its "plain talk" philosophy, has decided, for now, to keep its status quo on money market disclosures.
Indeed, Vanguard has every right to follow its own course. But it's only a matter of time until its retail investors, who have entrusted the firm with some $2 trillion in assets, start to look across the aisle to their counterparts at Fidelity and wonder why their hands are not being held as tightly in Valley Forge, Penn., as they can be in Boston.