Call it a detour, said Eric Russell of his 12-year tenure at the company founded by his great-grandfather.
The soon-to-be ex-president of Frank Russell Trust Co.'s U.S. investment management and mutual fund distribution business is leaving the Tacoma, Wash.-based company March 31 to pursue lifelong ambitions:
One is to have time to spend on his volunteer efforts with young people and to concentrate on a venture capital fund-of-funds concept.
Mr. Russell, 38, set up his own foundation and company -- the Aslan Foundation and Aslan Inc. -- in 1986 as twin vehicles to facilitate his interest in helping youth in his Gig Harbor, Wash., community and for future commercial ventures.
But he shelved active work on both entities when he went to work for Frank Russell Co. in 1987. He is the only one of his generation of the Russell family to work in the firm.
But the intense travel schedule required by his role in the Russell Co. interfered with his volunteer activities. And Mr. Russell found "the mutual fund industry . . . pretty restrictive about what you can and can't do," which impeded his ability to be more entrepreneurial and to get into more interesting investment management areas.
So two years ago, he set up Aslan Asset Strategies and hired two staffers to begin a venture capital operation.
The performance was good and Mr. Russell said it became obvious to him that "there was an opportunity before me to be more entrepreneurial and to do more than scratch the surface of some venture capital interests I had. It just has been pretty tempting."
Working with his father, company Chairman George Russell, Mr. Russell said he has come up with interesting ideas for venture capital in a fund-of-funds format. But he is leaving the world of institutional investment: The venture capital offered by Aslan Asset Strategies is only for high-net-worth individuals.
"These have always been my ambitions. I just got sidetracked at Frank Russell Co. for 12 years. In the end, this is a life choice," said Mr. Russell, who added he won't miss the daily commute into Tacoma. Aslan's commercial and foundation offices are right in his hometown.