Even though it had a certain glamour, Tom McQueenie knew being the maitre d' at the disco Arthur, one of the first discos in New York, had no future. So when he was offered a job writing reports on money managers for a fledgling pension fund consulting operation, he took it.
However, the consulting operation failed to get off the ground and Tom and his original partner, Tom Robertson, decided to sell the information they had gathered on funds and managers. Thus was born the Money Market Directory - the only institution in the pension business with hard green covers, and one that fills a huge information gap.
Now the MMD, as the huge green book is known, is the first place most pension sponsors look for basic information on their peers.
Marketing executives trying to reach pension funds, endowments and foundations have for the past 25 years also turned first to the MMD for a name, address and phone number of someone to contact.
In fact, without the MMD, it is fair to say, the management of tax-exempt assets by external managers would have developed at a far slower pace, and possibly there would be far fewer money management firms in the pension business.
Some might think that would be a good thing - that too many money management firms have been pursuing pension fund clients for the efficient management of pension assets.
But some good money management firms would have been starved at birth for want of the information they needed to identify and reach prospective clients necessary for their survival - information available for many years only, or most efficiently, in the MMD.
And many pension funds would be operating in ignorance of how their peers are structured.
The MMD, to many of us in and associated with the business, seems to have been around forever. But in fact it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, for which a small party was held in Charlottesville, Va., 10 days ago.
The MMD is still managed by Tom McQueenie, publisher. Interviewed the day after the party in his office in Charlottesville, Tom noted the first issue of the MMD had profiles of just 1,100 pension funds with assets of $135 billion. This year's edition has profiles of 48,000, with assets of $3.1 trillion, and is available in electronic form as well as book form.
The MMD fills a huge information gap left by government filings on pension funds. The Labor Department's studies of pension funds usually are at least three years out of date by the time they are produced because they are based on the 5500 annual report from pension funds. And, because of a flaw in that form, there are huge blanks in the obsolete information.
Tom starts with 5500 data on tape but then updates and augments it with a detailed questionnaire, mailed to pension funds in July.
There are imitators of the MMD, and other information services that complement it, but the MMD is the first place P&I's reporters look for information on many pension funds.