LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- David L. Eager left the company he founded in 1984 for the "other side" -- to become director of product development at money manager Driehaus Capital Management Inc., Chicago.
Mr. Eager left as head of Eager Manager Advisory Services -- a consultant to money managers -- on July 31, less than two years after it was sold to William M. Mercer Cos. LLC, New York.
Although the primary reason he's leaving is for the opportunity at Driehaus, Mr. Eager acknowledged "there hasn't been as much growth (at Eager Management Advisory) as we and Mercer would have liked."
Asghar Alam, national practice leader of William M. Mercer Investment Consulting Inc., will assume Mr. Eager's duties for now, said spokeswoman Stephanie Poe. Julia Hobart, Mr. Eager's counterpart at Mercer's London money manager consulting division, Mercer Advisory Services, remains in place.
Mr. Eager will join Driehaus Aug. 31, working mainly from Louisville, although he will work from Chicago for a few days every other week.
Mr. Eager has been a consultant to Driehaus for 12 years and in 1989 helped the company launch its first investment strategy, a small-cap growth product.
Driehaus has been trying to hire Mr. Eager for years, said Bob Moyer, president of Driehaus Capital, which manages $6 billion in aggressive growth strategies, mainly for institutional clients.
"I remember offering him a job at some point and his response was something like: `You've asked me either too early or too late.' He had his own company that he was working on growing and he just wasn't in a position to move.
"Dave also doesn't want to repot himself in Chicago. He likes living in Louisville. We couldn't accommodate this when we were just a few people, but now that we're up to 140 people, we have some flexibility. Technology lets us have some people work from other places," Mr. Moyer said.
Mr. Eager said he had to contend with two barriers every time Driehaus offered him a job: One was a move to Chicago; the other was that -- until late 1998 -- he held a majority interest in Eager Associates.
"I am very excited about moving over to money management and to work with Richard Driehaus (the company's founder and chief investment officer), who is a very nice person, very interesting and courageous in his investment convictions."
Mr. Eager's new role has three components:
* Marketing and sales, particularly to consultants;
* Research and development of Mr. Driehaus' plan to try to invest in and with other managers of aggressive, high-alpha-generating strategies that aren't closely correlated to Driehaus' style, in order to retain assets that clients have been rebalancing out of Driehaus' high-octane strategies; and
* Consulting on all of Driehaus' investment, marketing and business operations.
"Dave carries a lot of fire power to put us in front of consultants. He knows everybody," Mr. Moyer said.
Messrs. Moyer and Eager stressed that Driehaus is looking creatively at ways to work with other money managers with similar investment philosophies, although many details remain to be sorted out in terms of the shape of such alliances and the investment vehicles used.
"It's intriguing," said Mr. Moyer. "We have a lot of world view similarities with those two-man boutique shops, people who left big money managers to go out on their own. We're a two-man shop that got bloated at Driehaus, and Richard in particular has been nurturing of young managers and people with a different viewpoint."
His departure will cause a ripple of impact at Mercer, Mr. Eager said, but "it will be much less dramatic than it would have been 10 years ago."
Mr. Eager said he "followed the advice we give our clients" and institutionalized the two main consulting products offered: a client satisfaction survey and a benchmarking service for money managers. "A lot of times recently, I wouldn't necessarily know when we were retained by a new client," Mr. Eager said.
Mr. Eager said that he and two other client relationship managers -- Jeanette Schreiber in Chicago and Michelle Ehm in San Francisco -- were doing all the marketing as well and "perhaps we relied too much on three people."
As for a persistent rumor circulating around the money management business that Mercer is looking to sell Eager Advisory Services, neither Mercer spokeswoman Ms. Poe nor Mr. Eager knew of any discussions.
But as one industry competitor to Eager Advisory Services, who preferred anonymity, said: "What would there be to sell? They just are not producing the numbers and that won't be helped without Captain Ahab aboard."