Mr. Weiss, who has been named a senior member of the Wells investment team and a senior portfolio manager, said in an interview that his 16-person team, and the 11 members of Mr. Pence's team, are committed to staying.
Mr. Weiss and his team manage Strong's small-cap and midcap equity strategy, accounting for $6.4 billion as of April 30; Mr. Weiss is based in Chicago, while most of his team is in Menomonee Falls. Mr. Pence and his Indianapolis-based team manage $1.7 billion in fundamental growth.
Mr. Weiss added: "Several clients told me they were encouraged that Wells was the buyer because they have a good reputation in the business community, and of course (clients) were relieved that the uncertainty had been removed. The key to retaining clients is retaining the key investment people."
One recruiter who requested anonymity predicted nothing will change for a few months, but that over time key people might leave.
"Wells doesn't pay the way Strong does, which is incredibly generous," the recruiter said. "They (Strong) pay on the high end while Wells' salaries are mid to low end. But people who want to live in Wisconsin don't have many other options, so many will stay."
Mark Esposito, managing director in charge of financial services at executive recruiter Christian & Timbers LLC, New York, said he hasn't heard of many people running for the exits yet. "A lot have been checking their options with us, but many of the key investment executives seem to want to stay."
Another recruiter noted he knew of at least one team that had not yet signed a contract and was considering other options. He would not be specific. Neither Mr. Bissell nor Mr. Weiss could be reached to comment on this statement.
Two key Strong teams left before the sale was announced. The large-cap growth team led by Chris Wiles, Larry Eakin and Mike Halloran, left earlier in May to join National City Investment Management Co., Cleveland. They managed $200 million in mutual fund assets. And the leaders of the $2.9 billion fixed-income team — Ashok Bhatia, John Bonnell and Thomas Sontag — all resigned from the firm in April. They have not yet announced their plans.
The announcement of the acquisition follows Strong's agreement on May 20 with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York and Wisconsin attorneys general to pay $140 million in fines and restitution to settle allegations that Strong founder and former CEO Richard Strong had traded rapidly in and out of his firm's funds, hurting the fund's investors. He also permitted hedge fund Canary Capital Partners LLC to engage in rapid trading in Strong funds. Mr. Strong will pay $60 million of the $140 million total and also agreed to a lifetime ban from working in the securities industry. The firm also agreed to reduce its fees by at least $35 million over five years. The settlement paved the way for the acquisition to occur.