Strong Directors Name President As Compliance Chief

January 16, 2004 ( - Independent directors at the Strong Mutual Funds have turned to a former KPMG partner to be the troubled company's chief compliance watchdog.

A news release issued by the firm’s independent directors said the directors had tapped Phillip Peterson for a newly created position of president of the funds. In addition to helping the Strong board keep watch on the funds, the directors said Peterson will monitor Strong Capital Management’s compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and will oversee the activities of the chief compliance officer and compliance functions at the funds.”

Peterson has also been charged with overseeing the implementation of recommendations made recently by former US Securities and Exchange Commission chairman David Ruder, hired by the company as a consultant.

Ruder was brought onboard in November when company founder Richard Strong resigned as chairman of Strong Mutual Funds after being accused of improper trading in the company’s funds. Strong resigned in December as chairman and chief executive of parent company Strong Financial Corp. and said then he would take steps to divest himself of majority control of the company (See Trading Probes Muscle Out Strong, Putnam Chiefs ).

The directors’ announcement said Peterson would also be expected to:

  • oversee the review of the Funds’ performance, fees and sales
  • review and assess issues relating to the board governance process
  • review and update the Funds’ Code of Ethics
  • provide “a conduit” for employee whistleblowers wishing to communicate to the independent directors.

“(Peterson) has an exceptional background in the industry and a deep commitment to shareholders. He will serve as the eyes and ears of the independent directors on a daily basis to monitor the performance of all Strong mutual funds and to make sure that we have an exceptional compliance program,” said William Vogt, chairperson of Strong’s independent director group in the statement.

Before retiring from KPMG LLP in 1999, Peterson worked for 30 years providing professional services to mutual fund and investment management clients. During the 1990s, he managed KPMG’s US mutual fund practice. Since his retirement, Peterson has served as an independent director of two mutual fund groups.