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Columbia Funds

I rarely see any of their funds mentioned on MFO, I have SMGIX which seems to be fairly similar to my old fave UMBIX which I sold when the manager retired. I recently added their tech fund CMTSX to my retirement portfolio. Would like to see if others use this family, and what they think. Im aware most of the board uses Fidelity, T D Ameritrade and such rather than ones with financial advisors, so it may be a small pool of investors here.


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  • I suspect any responses you get will be from legacy investors like Maurice and myself. Though unlike Maurice, I did invest in a Columbia fund ages ago, when Columbia was a boutique shop in Oregon with a few good growth funds. Got rid of that in 1997 when Columbia was acquired by Fleet Boston (later called Fleet Financial).

    The Acorn lineage that Maurice is referring to is almost completely separate. Liberty acquired a bunch of fund companies including Stein Roe (Young Investors fund, Stein Roe Special), Newport Pacific (Newport Tiger Fund), Wanger (Acorn Funds), and others.

    Fleet Boston brought these Liberty lines together with Columbia in 2001 (when it acquired Liberty). BofA in turn acquired the whole mess in 2004, subsequently merging some Nations Bank funds into it. (BofA had merged with Nations Bank previously.)

    Regarding Excelsior funds - they were acquired by US Trust (which was acquired at some point by Schwab, but sold to BofA in 2007), and rebranded Columbia when BofA acquired them.

    BofA has since sold the Columbia line to Ameriprise.

    The Acorn funds have been kept somewhat separate, but otherwise, I don't have a clue what "Columbia Funds" means anymore. It's certainly not the low cost growth-oriented boutique I bought years ago.

    I do know that they make it exceedingly difficult for "eligible investors" (those who are allowed to purchase noload Z shares like SMGIX). Can't seem to open an account online, can't even find an application to download that includes Z class shares.

    Columbia has closed off access to Z shares via supermarkets - you can buy their A shares, but Z share accounts are frozen (no buys allowed, even for grandfathered customers).

    You put all that together, and maybe Columbia is of interest for hard-to-find types of funds, but it's not a family I'd be looking to for most categories. All that said, Pope seems to be doing a fine job at SMGIX. It's natural that this resembles the current incarnation of UMBIX, since Pope manages that as well (albeit with others there).

    But as M* opines, it's a different style now - not the same as the value-oriented fund you sold off. If that's what you're looking for, it seems you may still need to keep looking.
  • edited November 2014
    Thanks for your responses, and the very detailed history by msf, it does have quite a history of bouncing around. I owned UMBIX for many years before I sold, but I have been happy with SMGIX, which I purchased through ML, and Pope indeed is a fine successor to David Williams. I suspect the two funds will eventually merge. I like the contrarian bent, UMBIX never was a true large value either, it had a style all its own. SMGIX seems to play the same way.

  • @slick; One of Chicago's great investment managers.
    The Greatest Investors: Ralph Wanger:
  • edited November 2014
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  • msf
    edited November 2014
    I was referring to Z shares when I wrote that Columbia has been cutting off access through supermarkets.

    If you have a direct account with Columbia, then that is a fund account, not a brokerage account. Technically each fund is held in a separate account - you get a separate 1099-DIV for each fund you hold (unlike at a brokerage). So when you did the exchange, you opened an account for Emerging Markets.

    You are right that the website does allow exchanges to new funds. But it doesn't allow the opening of new funds online if you want to pay from a bank or by check. For that, you have to use a special paper form (seven pages) that is not available online.

    That form is not user-friendly:
    Part 8: Financial Adivsor's Firm
    Your financial advisor should complete this section. Please note: missing or incomplete information may result in our failure to establish the account.
    What's a financial advisor? The only investment designation I'm familiar with is DIY:-)

    With respect to non-Acorn funds:
    Part 11: Class Z or Load-waived Class A Share Eligibility Certification
    Investors interested in purchasing class Z (or load-waived class A shares if class Z is not available) of mutual funds distributed through Columbia Management Investment distributors [sic] Inc. (Distributor) must declare their eligibility by certifying the appropriate information below:

    [box] I (we) am a shareholder ... of a fund distributed by the Distributor (i) who holds Class Z shares; (ii) who holds Class A shares that were exchanged from class[sic] Z shares; or (iii) who purchased certain no-load shares of funds merged with funds distributed by the distributor [sic].
    So you can purchase any Columbia fund's Z shares (if they exist), else load-waived A shares of the fund.
  • A side note for those who care (perhaps too much) about who got caught in the 2003ish mutual fund scandal.

    Here's a settlement notice from Columbia that pays shareholders of (among other funds) Acorn International, Acorn Select, and funds coming from Stein Roe, Newport, Wanger, and others whose lineage I don't care to track down.

    I do recall that one of the more egregious offenders was Nations Bank (which later got merged into Columbia Funds).

    I'm not going to sort out which funds were involved; just point out that the scandal appears to have come into present day Columbia from two distinct lines - Nations Bank and Fleet Boston (which bought Liberty which bought Acorn among others). So there were scoundrels on both sides of the "family".
  • I am in ACRNX and I have done well. If access was easier I think I would move on, but it is like being in an exclusive club. You have to get past the emotions though. It is a small ish position and I will likely keep it to maintain access.
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  • Reviving an older thread: I uncovered a M* Fund Times May 1, 2015, article on management shakeup at Acorn Funds. Robert Mohn is retiring (unexpectedly) as domestic chief investment officer in 4th quarter 2015, and several experienced analysts left in 2013-2015. M* is putting the Acorn funds under review.
    Recent poor performance of ACRNX led to about 40% of assets being withdrawn in 12 months leading up to May 1 article.
    Link, must sign in to view:
  • 401-k will be leaving two of their funds in the near future. I'm glad to report I had zero dollars in either one !
  • I Own CBLAX And Am Happy With Its Performance.
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