There's one name conspicuously absent from our list of 30 people who made a difference.
Mike, editorial director of Pensions & Investments and our sister publication, InvestmentNews, is not on the list because he wouldn't allow himself to be included. But now that I'm the editor and he's not — and he therefore won't see this until it is printed and delivered to you, him and me — he can't stop me from giving him solo billing in this column.
Mike, who celebrates his 31st anniversary at Pensions & Investments as it celebrates its 30th, was instrumental in starting P&I. Along with Steve Gilkenson, the founding editor, he directed the coverage, hired and trained the reporters, and introduced the publication to the people who would become its news sources.
He also wrote so many stories during those early days that his byline didn't appear on most of them, probably so readers didn't think P&I only had one reporter. (It didn't; it only seemed that way.)
His reach and influence, however, were — and continue to be — far greater than just the pages of P&I.
Mike's early attempts to get performance data from trust banks and insurance companies led to the creation, in 1976, of PIPER, P&I's now-quarterly performance database of money managers. Although performance data was available before PIPER, most of it was anonymous rankings. Mike's efforts marked the first time a publication put the manager names and their returns together.
Mike began PIPER by calling just New York banks, because he had heard they were swapping performance informally. The banks wouldn't release their own performance data, so, instead, he asked each bank how another one did. In his second report, he added non-New York banks, squeezing the information out of them by asking: "Did you see how bad those New York guys did? How'd you do?" He added insurance companies, using the same tack.
He's also been on the speakers' circuit for 30 years. Unlike many people for whom public speaking is part of their job, every speech Mike writes is fresh and unique to the venue. And he has never accepted a dime for any of them.
Along the way, Mike Clowes became, in many people's minds, Mr. Pensions. His name was synonymous with the powerful industry spawned by passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and with media coverage of that industry.
And, despite his ever-expanding duties on P&I, Mike has somehow found time to write a few books, launch a few new publications for our parent, Crain Communications Inc., and give press interviews around the world.
Lest this column be considered a love letter to a boss from an over-eager employee trying to earn Brownie points, allow me to complain about the downside of working for Mr. Pensions.
His complaints about politicians annoyed me, not only because he and I often were (and still are) on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but also because he was not a U.S. citizen. I told him more than once that he had no business running his mouth if he wasn't willing to give up his Australian citizenship to gain the right to vote his bad guys out of office and his good guys into office. He became a U.S. citizen several years ago, so now I listen politely.
One other thing: After 21 years at P&I, I still feel like a novice chess player up against the world-renowned expert — Mike. No matter how much I learn about the pension and investing game, he always knows more. He can always checkmate me in the end.
But he never uses that power, and that sure makes a difference to me.