Old-timers, take heart. For every U.S. mutual fund manager in his or her 20s, there's at least one in his or her 50s.
That's the conclusion reached Tuesday by researchers at Morningstar Inc., who found that the average age of about 1,000 managers in the firm's database is about 44.
"It's a myth that the fund industry is overpopulated with managers in their 20s," said Morningstar analyst Scott Cooley.
That could be reassuring to investors who have lived through a bear market--knowing their money managers also have lived through one.
Some companies such as Fidelity Investments and Aim Management Group are known for handing billion-dollar stock portfolios to managers barely in their 30s, or even younger.
Erin Sullivan, 29, manages the $3.4-billion Fidelity Aggressive Growth Fund, for example. Rob Shelton, 29, is co-manager of the $19-billion Aim Value Fund. But older fund managers in Morning star's sampling included Martin Whitman, 74, who runs Third Avenue Value Fund.
In the end, a manager's age doesn't matter, said Sheldon Jacobs, who writes the newsletter No-Load Fund Analyst from his office in Irvington, N.Y.
"I never found any correlation between the age of a manager and his ability to take defensive action if a bear market occurs," said Jacobs, who's been writing about the fund business for 25 years.