H. Kent Atkins, former chief investment officer of Bankers Trust Co., is leaving this month to start his own money management firm.
Some industry observers consider the move long overdue. Last January, Bankers restructured, moving Mr. Atkins to a lesser post.
Mr. Atkins would not give too many details of his new venture saying only it is a money management firm affiliated with another organization "not the size of Bankers Trust" and not now in the asset management field.
The firm will be based in the New York area and probably will open near the end of January.
"I've reached the point where, if I want to take this opportunity and the risk and the excitement of doing that, I can do it now. I just want to give it a try and the time is right for me," said Mr. Atkins.
The idea was "something I'd been yearning for in the back reaches of my mind," he said.
Mr. Atkins joined Bankers Trust in 1962, and was named head of the global investment management group in 1983, a position he held until the restructuring in January.
"I've had a long and illustrious career there. I'm very proud of and pleased with what we've accomplished," he said.
Bankers Trust, previously known mainly as an index fund manager, restructured its investment groups in January to boost its active management role and its trading of derivatives.
The changes included the merger of Bankers Trust's investment management group and its funds management unit and the elimination of its active international equity group based in London.
Traditional investment managers including Mr. Atkins were sidelined into client service roles within the company's strategic advisory group, while executives with derivatives backgrounds filled key executive spots. Ivan Wheen was named managing director and head of global investment management.
Mr. Atkins had what one source described as "the ultimate job" as chief investment officer. The move to a client service role was clearly a demotion for a company veteran, said a former Bankers Trust executive.
"What's happened is the whole management of the investment management group was disenfranchised," said an industry source.
The functions of the strategic advisory group are now being rolled into the general marketing operation and many of Mr. Atkins' responsibilities are being absorbed by Bluford H. Putnam. Mr. Putnam joined the company in July as chief investment strategist.
The change will offer clients an improved advisory service, including the benefit of Bankers Trust's expertise in risk management and asset allocation, said Anthony Bowe, managing director.
Mr. Atkins said the restructuring didn't affect his decision.
"The bank is, of course, trying to expand its activity and expand some of its strengths," he said. "I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment on that restructuring and the strategy involved in that restructuring."