Archive for Sunday, May 9, 2004

LHS alumnus leads Janus

Former resident takes helm at mutual fund company

May 9, 2004


Lawrence residents Don and Marian Scheid remember that their son, Steve, had a penchant for math while growing up in the 1960s in Lawrence.

But they weren't sure how seriously to take his interest because, after all, his main use for math was to play a game.

"He started playing some baseball-oriented game in the fifth or sixth grade that required him to do quite a few computations, and that was back in the day when you used a slide rule instead of a calculator," Don Scheid said. "He was good at it, but I don't think we ever thought he would use it to become what he is today."

Steve Scheid still uses math, although now he uses it to follow what some would call the biggest game in the country -- the stock market. In late April Scheid was named chief executive officer of the mutual fund giant Janus Capital Group Inc.

Scheid was a Lawrence resident from 1955 to 1971, when he graduated from Lawrence High School. He credits his days in Lawrence as a major factor in his rise to the upper echelon of the financial world.

"Certainly a lot of my enjoyment has come from the good Midwestern upbringing that you get in Lawrence," Scheid said in a telephone interview last week. "My parents, my family, all my instructors were instrumental in teaching me the value of hard work."

Business challenges

Scheid appears to have plenty of hard work in front of him. He took over a company with sales of just less than $1 billion per year and about 1,500 employees. The Denver-based fund management company also has been mired in controversy.

The company was one of several in the industry accused of market timing, a practice that allowed some privileged investors to make rapid trades in and out of funds at the expense of other shareholders.

The allegations led to former CEO Mark Whiston's resignation and Scheid's hiring April 20. A few days later, the company agreed to a settlement with regulators that called for $225 million in penalties.

But damage already had been done to the company. During the first quarter of this year, investors pulled $7.7 billion out of Janus managed funds, the financial news service CBS Market Watch reported.

The scandal also caused the influential fund research company Morningstar to tell investors to consider selling their Janus funds. Scheid's hiring hasn't caused Morningstar to completely reverse its stance, but his arrival is drawing some praise.

"It gives investors a clear sense that they're making a clear break with the past regime," Morningstar senior fund analyst Dan McNeela told CBS Market Watch. "Hopefully they can take advantage of this opportunity to re-establish the culture at Janus where investors came first."

Scheid is going into the job with his eyes wide open.

"It has been a wonderful company, but it has had a couple of bumps lately," Scheid said. "I just want to make sure the company lives up to the great potential it has. I think brighter days are ahead for sure."

Scheid has Lawrence supporters who think he's the right man for the job.

Title: Chief executive and chairman of Janus Capital Group Inc.Age: 50Lawrence connections: Lived in Lawrence from 1955 to 1971, when he graduated from Lawrence High School.Family: Lives in suburban San Francisco with his wife, Patti, and their three children.Previous job: Vice chairman of Charles Schwab Corp.

"We think he'll get everything squared away," said his mother, Marian Scheid.

KU connections

Scheid's hiring will be a boost to the stature of the LHS alumni list, but not Kansas University's list. Scheid left Lawrence in 1971 to attend Michigan State University, where he received a degree in business and accounting.

But his family has strong ties to KU. Don Scheid came to the university in 1955 as an instructor in the music department and retired in 1990 as associate dean of fine arts.

Steve Scheid said he remained a KU fan.

"I love the university and the culture and the sports programs that are in Lawrence," Scheid said. "Lawrence is just a very close-knit community. I see how close my parents are with my friends and I just think it is a great place."

Because monitoring businesses is a big part of his job, Scheid has taken notice of the Lawrence business community when he returns for visits.

"It seems like there is a great partnership there between the businesses and the university," Scheid said. "It seems like they have figured out how to make it work very well."

After graduating from Michigan State, Scheid got into the banking and investment industry. In 1996 he became one of the top executives at Charles Schwab Corp., serving as vice chairman and president of its retail division from 2000 to 2002.

People who knew Scheid as a Lawrence student said they weren't surprised by his success. Jeff Weinberg was a history teacher at LHS and had Scheid in several classes. Weinberg, who is now an assistant to KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway, said Scheid always stood out in his mind.

"Steve was one of the best students I had while I was there, and I had some very good ones," Weinberg said. "When you think of students who you think can go on to make a name for themselves, Steve is certainly one who you would think of. It certainly speaks well of what an LHS education can do for you."

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