A competitive spirit -- wanting to outperform the market, their peers, their own past performance -- characterizes that rare breed of portfolio managers who truly love managing money.
The mutual fund managers interviewed here also share a curiosity about the companies they invest in -- the products, the services, the management and the markets they dominate.
Some of them marvel that they get paid as much as they do for doing something they love. As one of said, these are people who "tap dance their way into work every day (and) can't wait for the day to begin."
All 10 manage one or more mutual funds with five-year performance in at least the 25th percentile, according to Morningstar Inc., Chicago.
Arden C. Armstrong, managing director, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Investment Management/Miller Anderson & Sherrerd; manages $904 million total in MAS Funds Mid Cap Growth and Small Cap Growth Portfolios:
"I really do love my job. I get so upset when I can't go to work, say if it snows," Ms. Armstrong said. She admitted to once stopping halfway down a ski slope to answer her cell phone.
"I don't think you can find this combination of job requirements anywhere else. You do need a special personality -- you have to thrive on the markets, on instantaneous change and constant sensory input. If you are the kind of person who wants to be finished with a project, this is the wrong job. There's never any closure."
Christopher C. Davis, portfolio manager Davis Selected Advisers LP; manages $16.5 billion total in Davis New York Venture and Selected American Shares Funds:
It's "hard not to be giddy about this fascinating business," says Mr. Davis, a third-generation money manager.
"You are not obliged to do the same things every day and you get to partner with some of the best companies in America. It's an amazing thing to get paid for going around and meeting great companies."
Michael P. Fasciano, president and portfolio manager, Fasciano Company Inc.; manages: $200 million in the Fasciano Fund:
Mr. Fasciano does not characterize himself as especially competitive. "This is a business with a lot of bright people. Competition is keen. But you're setting yourself up for disappointment if you insist on being No. 1. For me, what's important is the sense that I've done my very best, at the end of the month, the day, the year."
His love of managing his mutual fund sustained him for 11 years before the fund really took off. It took that long to hit $100 million in assets, he said, and only six months to grow to $200 million.
In the early days, Mr. Fasciano not only managed the money he'd persuaded 20 people to give him, but also took care of all the back office work, even pricing the fund every night and typing shareholder statements.
William H. Gross, managing director, Pacific Investment Management Co.; manages $70 billion, including five bond mutual funds:
"I sort of blend it into a life philosophy in order to survive in this business. You need a regime of exercise and outside interests so you don't burn out," he said.
Mr. Gross has thought about what makes money managers tick. He said most "are a little more neurotic than the average person.
They have a very strong need, a desire, to win. Part of that is from the need for constant feedback about me, how I'm doing. . . . Essentially, we're all just neurotic game players who need feedback every second of the day."
Edward B. Jamieson, managing director-equities and high-yield department, executive vice president, Franklin Advisers Inc.; manages $5 billion in the Franklin Small Cap Growth Fund:
"The part I really love, the most satisfying thing is when you get to do really in-depth analysis of the financials of a company and get to know it very well. And then you get to watch the market and see what it does. When there's a misvaluation, you act, to buy or sell and watch how the market behaves as a result of your action."
Like Mr. Gross, Mr. Jamieson is old enough to have been through a number of market cycles -- good and bad. "You have to have lived through some hard times to have the courage to buy in down markets, to actually pull the trigger," he said.
Warren B. Lammert, vice president, portfolio manager, Janus Funds; manages $4 billion in the Janus Mercury Fund:
Mr. Lammert, the only one of those interviewed who can conceive of doing anything else, would rather play professional hockey. But he finds money management combines the best elements of sports -- intense competition and the thrill of winning -- with the fundamental analysis of the academic world that also attracts him. He plays on two amateur hockey leagues in his spare time.
Money management, he says, offers "a day-to-day look at the markets. But it's much more people-oriented than the academic world I was (also) interested in. . . . I'm a competitive person and I like to test my theories against the real world. You're measured every single day."
J. Donovan Paul, senior vice president and head of the fixed-income team, INVESCO Funds Group; manages $3.25 billion in INVESCO High-Yield and Select Income Funds:
Mr. Paul is perhaps the most obsessed of the managers interviewed. "It's a sickness," he admits.
But it's a disease he loves. "It's so much fun, so exciting, I would do this even if I didn't get paid. I'm a workaholic -- I sit around on the weekends and plan what I'll do in my portfolios on Monday. And I get up every day pumped up to do what I do. A lot of my life is invested in my work." Such passion, he said, comes from competition. "I'm highly, highly competitive. I like winning a lot. This is the big guys playing together in a rough and tumble game. I love it."
Robert Perkins, chief investment officer, Perkins, Wolf, McDonnell & Co.; manages more than $500 million, including $300 million as subadviser of Berger Small-cap Value and Berger Mid-cap Value funds.
"I feel I'm the most fortunate person in the world. I've always thought this was a game and I love playing the game on my terms, without the BS that comes with working for a big firm," Mr. Perkins said.
"I'd do my job whether I got paid or not. I've always said this is the most over-compensated business in the world."
Mr. Perkins gives away a good portion of his income to charity --in this case, to fund scholarships for needy kids to attend parochial schools in Chicago.
Spiros Segalas, chief investment officer, Jennison Associates Capital Corp.; manages $25 billion total, $9 billion in mutual funds:
"I was always a sore loser in sports at school. You have to love to compete, to win in this business. And it can't be that subjective. The (performance) numbers speak for themselves. You can look at performance daily, hourly, monthly, yearly: The numbers don't lie," Mr. Segalas said.
Erin Sullivan, portfolio manager, Fidelity Investments; manages $2.6 billion in the Fidelity Emerging Growth Fund:
Ms. Sullivan started buying stocks when she was 10 because her father told her Hershey would send her chocolate with the annual report. A math major, she loves the numbers part of the business.
"I like competing against myself and the market. At the end of the day, you are measured. It's very quantitative and very objective.
"I really love it. It's addictive. You just want to call in to see what's going on. I have a better vacation if I can check in. . ."