Collaboration among students and professors is not uncommon at Georgia State University College of Law, but “swing pricing” isn’t a topic that typically brings them together. However, when the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) finalized rules authorizing the mutual fund pricing mechanism, Holly van den Toorn (J.D. ’19) and Anne Tucker, associate professor of law, decided to collaborate on an article about their mutual interest, which the Columbia Business Law Review published April 2.
Van den Toorn, a part-time student, has more than 18 years of mutual fund industry experience and is a legal and compliance manager for a publically traded company. She worked with Tucker on an independent study about new liquidity management rules proposed by the SEC, including the swing pricing rules, during her first year at Georgia State Law. Tucker had discussed swing pricing as a possible solution for sedentary mutual fund investors in Locked In: The Competitive Disadvantage of Citizen Shareholders.
“I sought out Professor Tucker to help with the study not only because she writes about mutual funds, but because of her exceptional reputation among students as a professor fully engaged in teaching students – not just in class, but also on a one-to-one basis,” van den Toorn said. “She is known for her academic and intellectual rigor, and she welcomes students to share her passion for mutual funds and learning.”
While working on van den Toorn’s project, she and Tucker learned from each other and appreciated their different perspectives.
“After the SEC finalized the mutual fund rules, we decided to write a piece together from scratch,” Tucker said.
The article, Will Swing Pricing Save Sedentary Shareholders? outlines the new SEC rules authorizing swing pricing, and anti-dilution tool intended to protect sedentary investors – primarily those saving for retirement – who enter, and stay, in a fund. Tucker and van den Toorn explore the components of swing pricing, which allocates transaction costs to the triggering shareholders, as well as its objections and perceived benefits.
“We chose to write about swing pricing because, while it may seem like a technical topic, it is a fundamental change to pricing of open-ended mutual funds, and is kind of a big deal,” Tucker said. “It raises interesting policy questions, especially regarding retirement investors, along with implementation and practical questions.”
For the article, Tucker researched the final SEC rules, as van den Toorn had already done foundational research on the proposed rules. They compiled an outline, and Tucker wrote the body of the paper with van den Toorn’s research and editing support. They co-wrote the introduction and conclusion.
Initially, van den Toorn wasn’t sure what to expect from working with a professor. As a part-time student, with a full-time job and young son, she worried her schedule may be an issue – it wasn’t.
“Professor Tucker never blinked an eye and truly embraced our collaborative partnership throughout this project. She is an exceptional example of the professors who enhance the student experience,” van den Toorn said.
“I enjoyed our discussions that balanced her academic perspective and my industry knowledge. She pushed me to think more critically about my industry experiences. Even though I am the student, Professor Tucker always gave my perspective consideration and was keen to learn the nuanced details of fund operations. I’m grateful for her mentorship and to the opportunity to work with her.”
Tucker considers the collaborative article a representation of the best parts of being a law professor – learning new information, writing and working with students.
“I truly learned from the experience and gleaned insight into fund operations that I couldn’t have gained otherwise. Writing can be a lonely, isolating process. I enjoy working collaboratively to break that isolation, to deepen my thinking and to integrate new perspectives into my work,” Tucker said. “I like and respect Holly. She represents the best of our part-time program and is remarkable for juggling so much and for even thinking about taking on this writing project with me. She demonstrated tremendous intellect, professionalism and work ethic.”
Tucker and van den Toorn hope the article will help mutual fund directors and executives become more familiar with swing pricing, its benefits and work toward incorporating it into existing frameworks of shareholder protections.