Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A sense of community

In this past weekend's WSJ, an article titled "Religion for Everyone" appeared which was taken from a book by Alain de Botton, that touched on the subject of "community." It begins "One of the losses that modern society feels most keenly is the loss of a sense of community. We tend to imagine that there once existed a degree of neighborliness that has been replaced by ruthless anonymity, by the pursuit of contact with one another primarily for individualistic ends: for financial gain, social advancement or romantic love."

The very word "community" carries a special meaning. Several years ago the pastor of our Church included the word in a sign that sits out front of our church building: instead of just "St. Matthias," it reads "Community of St. Matthias." Community means a sense of belonging, sharing, having something in common, friendship, interaction, having a common bond, and much more.

The article goes on to speak about the importance of discovering what someone does for a living, when we first meet them. And so it's clear that our professional roles count a great deal. Putting aside the religious aspect of community, let's just think about community and the profession of investment performance. Do we need one? Do we seek it out? Does it exist?

The reality is that community exists and is available for anyone in the investment performance field who wishes to take advantage of it. From The Spaulding Group's Performance Measurement Forum (a membership group that meets twice a year in the States, and twice a year in Europe); to the various conferences held each year, including the CFA Institute's annual GIPS(R) (Global Investment Performance Measurement) conference and TSG's annual PMAR (Performance Measurement, Attribution & Risk) conferences; to the CIPM (Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement) program, that assigns upon those who successfully complete the examinations and meet its requirements, an increasingly important designation; to the various Linkedin Groups; to the various industry committees that exist. Even subscribing to, sitting on the board of, or writing articles for The Journal of Performance Measurement(R) is a form of community for the performance measurement professional. The degree to which PMPs (Performance Measurement Professionals) avail themselves of these opportunities can determine the extent of knowledge, awareness, acknowledgement, and success they have. And arguably the degree of pride they have in working in our field. And no doubt, their sense of community and sense of  belonging.

When I was 14 I joined a youth group called the Order of DeMolay. I attended the first few meetings and didn't feel as if I really belonged. But,when I was appointed to a position in the chapter, that turned it all around for me, and I went on to be very active. How much we participate in any group or profession, (whether holding positions on committees, writing articles, speaking at conferences, attending events, etc.), no doubt factors in to our sense  of belonging; our sense of community.

When I chair our conferences I mention how the attendees cannot only benefit from the speakers and the vendors who are present, but also those fellow PMPs among them, who are there to gain knowledge and insight. Not only can relationships be formed, which can be profitable from multiple perspectives, but additional knowledge can be obtained in learning how others deal with issues, use software, struggle with compliance, etc.

Our firm's "tag line" is "Performance Measurement is Our Passion." And so, it's not surprising that we have formed several groups, and regularly seek to provide a "sense of community" for PMPs. We strongly believe that such communities provide opportunities for individuals not only to learn, but to grow professionally, establish relationships with others, discover opportunities, enhance their firm's operations, and benefit them professionally. Communities allow folks to fell part of something. And it's clear that there are plenty of opportunities for just that,  for the performance measurement professional. We hope you're taking advantage of some of them.


  1. I fail to see how encouraging some creativity to put greater emphasis on key information in client reports can generate controversy, but I guess that this is to be expected in the world of performance measurement, where people can't even seem to agree on the questions, much less the answers. What does any of this have to do with GIPS or with money weighted returns for that matter? Seems we already use fonting and color, specifically for section headings and losses. We frequently use graphics, which is an extreme use of creativity, substituting pictures for numbers, as in a line graph ( " a picture speaks a thousand words.") Could we do more in presenting numeric data in reports to focus attention on key messages? Clearly we should, because reports are information and not Dara. We are communicating a message, rather than simply delivering facts. But, let's not go overboard... Let's try to maintain some decorum. With that in mind I say: "Pass the crayons!"

  2. Steve, I don't think the idea is controversial; just a matter of prioritization: Content First, Format Second. You're right that this doesn't have anything to do w/GIPS, though I like the suggestion (was there one?) that we could include some excitement here, too, with color, graphics, etc! I was having some fun w/the post, and used some hyperbole to make a point. Some firms look for ways to use the color and fonting capabilities they have available, but not all.

    I recall the first time I encountered a color printer, back in '86: I fell in love with it, even though I had no idea what I'd do with it. Tools available are quite powerful, so be creative! But again, CONTENT FIRST!


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