Now things are starting to get really interesting.
It's been six months since news of widespread trading abuses in the mutual fund industry hit the streets. A lot has happened since then. Heads have rolled, shops such as Bank of America
While we await the results of those discussions with bated breath, we'll also apparently be treated from time to time to the results of internal investigations at some of the implicated shops. Call it fund family therapy.
That, at least, is what happened earlier this week when news broke about Putnam Investments' own inquiry into the trading abuses that occurred in its house. Here's a shocker: They were more pervasive than originally thought. Moreover, according to reports published in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, Putnam's board of trustees has found that even the Boston-based money manager's general counsel (who also served as the shop's chief compliance officer) knew about the shenanigans.
To be fair, Putnam -- a unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies
It's also why The Motley Fool launched the Champion Funds newsletter last week -- with yours truly serving as editor and lead analyst. To be a champ, a fund has to make the grade. I won't recommend any of the funds that have been caught up in the scandal, and the ones that pass that ethics test are then scored on such things as managerial acumen, expenses, and past performance. I also assess a little thing I like to call the X Factor.
The X Factor is where the rubber meets the proverbial road -- or at least where I lay my analytical skills on the line. A fund's X Factor reflects my big-picture view of its investment worthiness. Among other things, I weigh the quality of the shop behind the fund, the soundness of the manager's investment strategy, and his or her skill as a stock (or bond) picker. The track record a manager has at other funds may net extra points, but if a fund has made risky bets en route to its fat gains, I'll probably dock it a notch -- or several.
So if you're looking for analysis and insight about mutual funds based on a consistent set of criteria -- criteria designed to ferret out the market-beaters from the 98-pound mutual fund weaklings -- Motley Fool Champion Funds is for you. Take a free trial.
Shannon Zimmerman is the editor of Motley Fool Champion Funds. He does not own any companies mentioned in this article.