Sponsored by the Investment Company Institute, the General Membership Meeting (GMM) provides fund industry executives with a forum to discuss key issues, hear from regulators and policymakers, and welcome colleagues from around the world. Service providers and the media are important participants at the event. The 62nd annual ICI General Membership Meeting, to be held virtually in May 2021, will celebrate the extraordinary evolution and success of the investment company model since the creation of the first modern mutual fund in 1924.
Here is a brief look at notable developments through the history of the General Membership Meeting.
The first GMM was held in October 1959 at the Hotel Savoy-Hilton in New York City. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller spoke, telling the crowd that “the pioneering which you have done so effectively in this country is making it possible for the small investors, the men and women with small savings, to stay abreast of the growth of the economic life of this country…[and] is now finding a pattern and an adaptation in other parts of the world.” In 1959, there were about 160 funds with $17 billion in assets.
In 1965, the seventh GMM attracted a record 355 people, including “members, their wives, representatives of federal and state regulatory agencies,” and others. Vice President Hubert Humphrey was the keynote speaker.
In 1971, the GMM moved to Washington, DC. The first meeting in the capital featured a speech by Caspar Weinberger, who was deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget in the Nixon administration. Russell Train, chairman of the newly created White House Council on Environmental Quality, also spoke, signifying the birth and the importance of modern environmentalism.
The 1972 GMM was the first to feature a remote address from a speaker. Richard Scammon, director of the Elections Research Center, gave his perspectives on the national political scene via “television video tape.” He discussed, among other things, the presidential race, which would pit President Richard Nixon against Senator George McGovern of Minnesota. Member firms introduced money market funds that year.
The 1974 GMM was a celebration of the mutual fund industry’s 50th anniversary, in recognition of the first fund’s introduction in 1924. ICI reported 395 member firms, with $32 billion under management. It also was the year that President Gerald Ford signed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which created the individual retirement account, or IRA.
Attendees of the 1987 GMM were introduced to ICI’s new, computerized Fund User Network and Delivery System (FUNDS), which gave members access to portions of ICI’s statistical database and offered “limited electronic mail capabilities.”
When ICI held its 40th annual GMM in 1998, investment company assets totaled $5.5 trillion. About 77.3 million individual investors in 44.4 million households owned fund shares. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman addressed the annual meeting, examining “Retirement Security Issues in the Next Millennium.”
In 2008, the 50th annual GMM drew 1,200 attendees, roughly four times as many as the first. The fund industry, meanwhile, had grown to more than 11,400 registered investment companies, with $12.3 trillion in assets held on behalf of more than 51 million American households.
In 2010, ICI began holding three major events concurrently with the GMM: the Mutual Fund Compliance Programs Conference, the Operations and Technology Conference, and the Independent Director Council’s Fund Directors Workshop. These complementary events continue to bring together fund industry professionals and directors from the widest range of disciplines to enrich the GMM experience and provide attendees with more choice and overall value.
In 2015, the GMM commemorated the 75th anniversaries of the Investment Company and the Investment Advisers Acts of 1940, as well as of the Investment Company Institute.
In 2018, the 60th annual GMM attracted more than 1,500 attendees representing an international fund industry comprising almost 114,000 open-end regulated funds that, in total, managed assets of more than $40 trillion. Keynote speakers included James Gorman, chairman and CEO, Morgan Stanley, and David M. Rubenstein, cofounder and co–executive chairman, The Carlyle Group.
In 2020, the spread of COVID-19 led ICI to cancel the GMM in order to protect the health and well-being of ICI’s members, staff, guests, and other attendees, as well as their families.