Buy the manager, not the fund. You’ve heard Dan and me say that countless times over the years. So, what happens when one of my favorite managers for more than a decade announces he is taking a step back? Well, the first thing I do is pick up the phone and try to learn more.

That’s just what I did when I learned that Don Kilbride would be handing the reins of Dividend Growth (VDIGX) to his co-manager, Peter Fisher. (I first reported on this changing of the guard here.) Below, you’ll find my (long) conversation with both Kilbride and Fisher. We spent a lot of the time discussing the transition, but I also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask them about the portfolio and some individual stocks.

I’ve only lightly edited the interview and left it long because I know Dividend Growth is a large holding for many of you, and I want you to be able to come to your own conclusions. (I have underlined and called out key quotes in an attempt to make it more digestible.) That said, here’s where I stand after our conversation.

I don’t take any manager change lightly, but I think Kilbride and Fisher are going about this transition the right way. Kilbride is not retiring—he still has a seat at the Dividend Growth “table” as the manager of Advice Select Dividend Growth (VADGX)—which means he’ll be a resource to Fisher. The transition is happening because, as Kilbride put it,

[T]he time is absolutely right, for Peter and for the team, to move into the decision-making chairs … everything else flows from that.

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