Value manager AJO LP will stop trading this month and close later this year, but it's quite possible that former clients and consultants will miss the firm's collective sense of humor in the form of cartoons as much as its investment management acumen.
The firm's fixation on cartoons over the 37 years of its existence was really just part of "poking fun at our industry and at ourselves at the same time," said Theodore R. Aronson, the Philadelphia-based firm's founder, managing principal and co-CEO.
He added that "my motto is (that) managing money is no laughing matter. Wall Street, on the other hand, is another story. I take credit — or discredit — for the cartoon idea."
Mr. Aronson and Gina Marie N. Moore, co-CEO, principal and portfolio manager, looked back through the firm's archives and estimated that AJO presented "thousands" of cartoons to its institutional investor clients and friends of the firm. Most of the cartoons came from Conde Nast's Cartoon Bank, including many from The New Yorker magazine.
In the early years, the printed cartoons were sent to more than 300 recipients by U.S. mail together with reports and other communications from the firm.
Mr. Aronson said "over the years, cyberspace took over" and by the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, only 20% of cartoons still were sent by snail mail and since then, 100% are sent digitally.
The cartoons will continue to reside in various spots on AJO's website until the firm is shuttered.
Many AJO clients will still be able to access the cartoon collection via a book of cartoon favorites the firm created as a gift.
AJO will wind down management of $10 billion by Dec. 31.