Investing: Another measure of a good mutual fund

January 4, 2008

Investment returns and expenses have always been important considerations in deciding on a mutual fund. Now, add Morningstar's "Stewardship Grades" to the mix.

Investment returns and expenses have always been important considerations in deciding on a mutual fund. Now, add Morningstar's "Stewardship Grades" to the mix. Introduced in 2004 but recently improved upon, these grades attempt to measure how well-or how poorly-fund managers and fund companies align their interests with those of individual investors. Among the things Morningstar considers are the corporate culture, the quality of the fund's board, and whether the company has kept its nose clean with securities regulators. Of the more than 1,000 funds tested under the new grading system, a mere 6 percent received As. Top-rated fund families for stewardship include T. Rowe Price and Vanguard. Those scoring poorly included Morgan Stanley, Putnam, and Wells Fargo. (To view the grades, go to http://www.morningstar.com and click on Top Stewardship Grades under Fund Research.)