Power Brokers:The king’s counselors

Who has the CEO's ear? P&I ids those most likely to advise leaders of the top money management firms

For chief executives of investment firms, few relationships are as important to their personal success and that of their companies as those forged with independent advisers the powers behind the thrones.

There is an elite among those who provide essential counsel to top executives about everything from strategic advice to acquisition prospects to identifying key talent.

Pensions & Investments spoke to industry insiders and asked them to identify the most influential power brokers in three important support areas: strategic consultants, investment bankers and executive recruiters.

Interviews with CEOs or senior executives of 27 investment managers responsible for a combined $7.8 trillion in client money yielded a list of 10 people from eight firms most often cited as influential advisers.

Among investment bankers, for example, many CEOs said their first call in times of need would go to either Goldman Sachs & Co.'s Donald J. Truesdale or Merrill Lynch & Co.'s David Heaton. Each inherited and enhanced a franchise built by their predecessors. By contrast, Steven Niemczyk has built his own broad following, even though he has changed his corporate address twice this decade.

Some are gray-bearded veterans like strategic advisers John F. Casey, chairman and founding partner of Casey, Quirk & Associates LLC, and Donald H. Putnam, managing partner of Grail Partners LLC, who between them have nearly 70 years of industry experience.

Kevin P. Quirk, on the other hand, represents Casey, Quirk's next generation. Despite being Mr. Casey's junior by more than 20 years, money managers said Mr. Quirk's prescience about the industry has been crucial in their strategy planning. David Hunt, the leader of McKinsey & Co.'s famously collegial asset management team, also is highly respected.

Executive recruiters abound in the financial services area, but many sources said few companies specialize in asset management and even fewer possess the extensive global relationship networks needed to identify the very best talent.

Marylin L. Prince is the only woman among the power brokers, but sources said she is among the most focused and experienced of recruiters they've worked with. Together with her partner, Joseph B. Goldsmith, who is nearly a generation her junior, Ms. Prince built the industry's premier asset management boutique, PrinceGoldsmith LLC. Ashton S. McFadden also is one of the industry's younger recruiters but, together with his partners, built Jamesbeck Global Partners LLC into an executive search powerhouse.

Several other recruiters merit an honorable mention: David Barrett, managing partner, David Barrett Partners LLC, New York; consultants Richard Lannamann and Robin Soren from Spencer Stuart; and Debra Brown and James Houston, managing directors, Russell Reynolds Associates Inc., New York.

Contact Christine Williamson at cwilliamson@pionline.com and Douglas Appell at dappell@pionline.com