A:

In the late '60s and early '70s, the bull market and media scrutiny of fund managers had made heroes of the so-called gunslingers of the go-go funds. Some of these managers were pulling off yearly returns of 60%. Investors would follow managers based on performance, moving their money from fund to fund to chase the hottest hands, leading to the name "the performance cult". This was encouraged by a large sales push by mutual funds, making the shares of funds much more liquid. The gunslingers were increasingly encouraged by the seemingly endless bull market to expand their buying into riskier areas, including small, illiquid stocks, to maximize returns. They also urged portfolios to cash in on any capital gains that would add to their total. If they didn't, they would be hit by a large number of redemptions as investors in the performance cult left the fund for a more aggressive manager.

Not everyone was caught up in the go-go funds, however. Paul Cabot, a pioneering mutual fund manager who made his name by speaking out against the excesses before the 1929 crash, warned that the focus on short-term performance was both wrong and dangerous. The gunslingers were pushing up already overvalued stocks by moving their fund's capital in for the momentum play, and looking less and less at the fundamentals. This overheated the market and added to the severity of the correction that came with stagflation in the mid '70s.

The go-go funds were the hardest hit by the turnaround in the bull market. The outsized returns of the gunslingers and their performance cult were going, going, gone. These funds were officially renamed "aggressive growth funds", but they could not stem the redemptions that continued for the next decade. Today the performance cult still exists, but there is comparatively less fund switching because the fees incurred from jumping fund to fund eat up modest differences in performance.

For further reading on mutual funds, see Picking The Right Mutual Fund, The Truth Behind Mutual Fund Returns and our Mutual Fund Basics tutorial.

The question was answered by Andrew Beattie

RELATED FAQS
  1. How do I judge a mutual fund's performance?

    Evaluate mutual fund performance utilizing resources such as Morningstar; compare the fund with others in its peer group ... Read Answer >>
  2. How do I calculate the loan-to-value ratio using Excel?

    Learn what a mutual fund and a money market fund are, and understand the differences between each and how they serve various ... Read Answer >>
  3. Why is it that when investors realize returns on a mutual fund, its price tends to ...

    Mutual funds have been in existence since 1924, when the first open-ended mutual fund was created. Since then, the market ... Read Answer >>
  4. How much of a company's stock can a mutual fund own?

    There is no written rule that stipulates how much of a company a mutual fund can own. Instead, there are two major factors ... Read Answer >>
  5. Can mutual funds invest in hedge funds?

    Learn about mutual fund portfolio management techniques and mutual funds' ability to invest in hedge funds, as well as new ... Read Answer >>
  6. What's the difference between a mutual fund and a hedge fund?

    These two types of investment products have their similarities and differences. Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Managing Wealth

    Gunslinger Portfolio Managers

    Learn the high-risks associated with hiring a gunslinger to manage your investments.
  2. Markets

    Sorting Out Cult Stocks

    Is that crazy product going to be the next big thing? Learn how to evaluate these companies here.
  3. Investing

    Advising FAs: Explaining Mutual Funds to a Client

    More than 80 million people, or half of the households in America, invest in mutual funds. No matter what type of investor you are, there is bound to be a mutual fund that fits your style.
  4. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    How to Rate Your Mutual Fund Manager

    What to really look for when you're deciding on a mutual fund.
  5. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    5 Characteristics of Strong Mutual Fund Shares

    Discover some of the basic characteristics shared by good mutual funds that investors can use to help them in selecting funds.
  6. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    A Mutual Funds Guide for Young Investors

    Learn how mutual funds work, why they are so popular and how younger investors can get started by putting mutual funds in their IRAs or 401(k)s.
  7. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    When To Buy A Mutual Fund

    There is money to be made in mutual funds, but investors fall into several pitfalls that keep them from maximizing their profits. Read these tips to take the uncertainty out of investing in mutual ...
  8. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    Mutual Funds Are Awesome - Except When They're Not

    This investment is very popular, but that doesn't mean it comes without risk.
  9. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    Trading Mutual Funds For Beginners

    Learn about the basics of trading and investing in mutual funds. Understand how the fees charged by mutual funds can impact the performance of an investment.
  10. ETFs & Mutual Funds

    Mutual Funds

    What mutual funds are: Professionally managed pools of stocks, bonds and/or other instruments that are divided into shares and sold to investors. Pros: Diversification; liquidity; simplicity; ...
RELATED TERMS
  1. Go-Go Fund

    A slang name for a mutual fund that has an investment strategy ...
  2. Gunslinger

    A slang term for an aggressive portfolio manager who uses high-risk ...
  3. Mutual Fund

    An investment vehicle that is made up of a pool of funds collected ...
  4. Cult Stock

    A classification describing stocks that have a sizable investor ...
  5. Fund Supermarkets

    An investment firm or brokerage that offers investors a wide ...
  6. Fair Weather Fund

    A type of mutual fund that has a tendency to perform well during ...
Hot Definitions
  1. GBP

    The abbreviation for the British pound sterling, the official currency of the United Kingdom, the British Overseas Territories ...
  2. Diversification

    A risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. The rationale behind this technique ...
  3. European Union - EU

    A group of European countries that participates in the world economy as one economic unit and operates under one official ...
  4. Sell-Off

    The rapid selling of securities, such as stocks, bonds and commodities. The increase in supply leads to a decline in the ...
  5. Brazil, Russia, India And China - BRIC

    An acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. It has been speculated that by 2050 these four ...
  6. Brexit

    The Brexit, an abbreviation of "British exit" that mirrors the term Grexit, refers to the possibility of Britain's withdrawal ...
Trading Center