In a recent Bloomberg interview, Fidelity fund manager Will Danoff (who oversees $230 billion) shares insights on why money keeps flowing out of his star-performing mutual fund as well as some of his investment misses.
Although Contrafund, the $139 billion mutual fund Danoff manages, is up 21% this year, the article reports that he explains the outflows as a demographic issue: “We need to appeal to the Gen Z-ers and the younger generation as well, and luckily I think out app is quite good. But you know, a typical Gen Z-er may not be as interested in owning a mutual fund.”
The article notes that traditional mutual funds have been losing favor for years, adding “there’s now less money in actively managed U.S. equity funds than in low-cost alternatives such as index funds and exchange-traded funds that track the market instead of trying to beat it. More recently, young investors have flocked to Robinhood Markets, making commission-free trades with a few taps on their smartphones.”
Danoff says actively managed funds grapple with succession issues—what happens when the fund manager retires or underperforms. As far as his own missteps, Danoff admits regret at unloading most of Contrafund’s position in Tesla in 2017 and 2018—and missing out on more than $10 billion in gains. Conversely, he feels comfortable to have stuck with Berkshire Hathaway despite the stock’s lagging returns over the past decade: “The more I’ve spent time with Warren Buffett…the more I like it. With all my tech holdings this is a very good counterbalance and some ballast for the big fund.”