NEW YORK -- After just 15 months on the job, Frank P. Minard is back on the streets.
In late April, the man industry colleagues recently named as one of the seven top institutional marketers in the country was relieved of his position as head of global marketing and client services at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Investment Management.
He will remain an advisory director, a role Mr. Minard said will be largely consultative and short term.
He plans to launch an investment management marketing firm.
According to an internal memo obtained by Pensions & Investments, Richard Worley, managing director, told employees: "Frank Minard will be leaving his current position as of April 23, 1999." The memo was dated the same day.
Spokesman John Diat would add only that: "MSDWIM is in the process of refocusing its institutional marketing efforts. No replacement has been named for Mr. Minard."
Senior executives in the institutional division declined to provide further details. Ruth Hughes Guden, head of institutional defined contribution plans at MSDWIM, did not return phone calls.
Requests made through corporate communications to speak to Marna Whittington, managing director and chief operating officer of MSDWIM, and Mitchell Merin, president and chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Asset Management, were declined.
The unofficial story, however, is Mr. Minard simply didn't fit in.
One observer views Mr. Minard as a casualty of turf wars that resulted from a rough integration of four disparate investment management divisions -- Morgan Stanley; Miller Anderson & Sherrerd; Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Advisors; and Van Kampen American Capital.
"Frank left Bankers Trust under strange circumstances last year and there are always questions raised about why he left and then all of a sudden, he showed up at Morgan Stanley. I think it was a matter of people fighting over turf," said investment banker Thomas Courtney, president of The Courtney Group Inc., New York.
(Mr. Minard was managing director and head of quantitative management at Bankers Trust in New York and also head of global investment management operations before resigning after a reorganization in late 1997.)
Another source, who asked not to be identified, said Mr. Minard's initial appointment to head of global marketing at Morgan Stanley, a new position, raised hackles within the institutional investment division before he even started.
But Eli Neusner, a consultant in the Boston office of Spectrem Group Inc., was startled by the news. He said, "It took me by surprise when I heard. We thought maybe there had been some problem with integrating MSAM (the Morgan Stanley Asset Management division, which also contained Miller, Anderson & Sherrerd) into the rest of the asset management business. But I think it came down to turf battles and that Frank was just too demanding and too outspoken."
Mr. Minard's departure is unlikely to have an impact on MSDWIM's institutional marketing program, because the "average sales cycle of a large defined benefit plan account is 12 to 18 months. I'm not sure how much impact Frank could have had on this process in such a short tenure," said George Wilbanks, managing director at Russell Reynolds Associates Inc., New York.
"It's disappointing that Frank is leaving -- he's such a great guy -- but Morgan Stanley has such a good group with so much depth in the management team and so much momentum, that I don't think Frank's departure will have a big impact," Mr. Wilbanks said.
Mr. Minard's future, meanwhile, involves starting his own investment management marketing firm as soon as possible.
"There is a need for real marketing -- product management and product positioning that provide a competitive edge for money managers. Very few firms do this well," he said.
"The old way was to put together a product from your investment management stable and throw together a brochure and mail it out. That's not where it's at now. It's much more of a demand-pull situation. The key is to get people to notice your product above the clatter of 250 other top-quartile large-cap growth managers," Mr. Minard said.
The firm will focus in particular on helping money managers use Internet technology to deliver customized, timely marketing and client service information.
And he won't be spending too much time on his at-home putting green.
"I can't sit at home or go on vacation or something. I love this business. I don't know if you can be passionate about this industry, but if one were, I am," Mr. Minard said.