We got a look inside embattled Janus Capital Group
In a few short lines, CEO Mark Whiston said the company, following an internal investigation sparked by a complaint filed by the New York Attorney General's office, found evidence of "several" frequent-trading events, though they were of "limited size and duration." (For a better understanding of what Whiston's talking about, revisit Bill Mann's coverage of the issue.)
"The bottom line," according to Whiston, "is we're committed to living up to the high ethical standards shareholders expect of us."
Perhaps. But in public statements, arguably including this latest, Whiston and Janus don't seem willing to admit that the actions under investigation have hurt the company's reputation -- and deservedly so. When fund tracker Morningstar stopped rating Janus funds and said investors should "question their confidence" in Janus, for example, the CEO tried to divert attention to the company's "good" history from its troubled present.
That seems insufficient. Janus (and other fund companies, the complaint says) allowed Canary Capital Partners special trading deals that, while not all illegal, used means undisclosed to fund holders to make trades that hurt retail clients while making money for institutions. Yes, allowed, as in business as usual -- approved at the highest levels of the organization. These were not the actions of rogue employees easily made scapegoats. While public flogging seems excessive, some penitence would be nice.
As to business, it rolls on at Janus. The company is busily reorganizing, making several disposals and acquisitions -- and one confusing deal we covered earlier this year. No doubt, Janus would like back the $9 million it set aside from operating income to deal with investigation-related costs, but the company still managed to grow revenue, net income and operating income year over year in Q3. Perhaps customers simply aren't punishing Janus enough to get the treatment they deserve.
Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at email@example.com.