T. Britton Harris IV today resigned as CEO of Bridgewater Associates, a job he held for five months. Mr. Harris filled the firm's newly created CEO position in January, after being president of Verizon Investment Management for more than four years. Mr. Harris took over the business management responsibilities of running Bridgewater from Raymond T. Dalio, the firm's founder, co-CIO and president.
Mr. Harris' reasons for leaving could not be learned; he could not be reached for comment at Bridgewater's offices in Westport, Conn., or at his home.
A source with knowledge of Bridgewater, who requested anonymity, said Mr. Harris encountered difficulty in performing his duties because of the "tough culture" created by Mr. Dalio. The source described Mr. Harris' departure as "pretty straightforward" and said Mr. Harris should not encounter difficulty finding a new position in the investment industry "once he has decided what he wants to do."
Mr. Dalio said in an interview that the firm's corporate culture has always fostered "an extreme meritocracy of ideas," noting that there is no hierarchy in the investment decision-making process at Bridgewater. "Anyone can say anything to anyone in this firm, with respect, of course. You have to be ready to be challenged. It's the reason for our success, but it's very difficult for some people," Mr. Dalio said. "People either love or hate our culture," he said, adding that the firm experiences fairly high turnover within the first 18 months of employment, but after that point, turnover is very low.
When Mr. Harris joined Bridgewater, Mr. Dalio said, they acknowledged that the firm's challenging culture might be difficult, but "he was really excited. He said he couldn't wait. But there's no doubt that you can talk about the culture, but living it is something different. It's like going into cold water: You can't be sure you can get used to it, that you'll like it."
Mr. Harris "is a superstar, with an absolutely fabulous character. He's an industry leader," Mr. Dalio said, expressing confidence that they will continue their relationship of a dozen-plus years.
Giselle Wagner, Bridgewater's COO, said there is no immediate plan to replace Mr. Harris and that the firm is reviewing its options. Mr. Dalio said he is building a deep bench to take the firm into its second 30 years, and he is looking for a talented candidate who will relieve him of administrative responsibilities so he can concentrate exclusively on investments.
Bridgewater was founded in 1975 and manages more than $92 billion for an institutional client base.