BlackRock Inc. has lost a number of senior executives to competitors in the year since it became the world's largest manager, but rivals — some hefty in their own right — are being careful not to take more than one, headhunters say.
With more than $3 trillion in assets under management, BlackRock is “everyone's biggest client on the sell side or the custody side,” said one veteran executive recruiter, who declined to be identified. Because of that, a number of firms that managed to rouse BlackRock's ire this year by luring high-ranking executives from the New York-based company have pledged not to go for a second bite of the apple any time soon, said the recruiter.
Market watchers said BNY Mellon Asset Management, State Street Global Advisors, J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Goldman Sachs Asset Management are firms that, after bringing in top talent from BlackRock this year, agreed not to hire away other senior professionals from the company for a period of time.
While a considerable amount of turnover was always likely with the unprecedented combination of two trillion-dollar money management firms, industry veterans say this year's departures included a handful of executives whom BlackRock Chairman and CEO Laurence D. Fink was eager to retain.
The money manager worked to bring the $1.8 trillion in client assets from its December 2009 acquisition of Barclays Global Investors into the firm's “One BlackRock” superstructure. But during that integration, among the top executives who left were:
• Kristi Mitchem, a managing director and head of BlackRock's U.S. defined contribution business, who joined SSgA in March as a senior managing director and head of global defined contribution;
• Curtis Arledge, BlackRock's fixed-income chief investment officer, who joined BNY Mellon in August to replace outgoing CEO Ronald O'Hanley; and
• Michael O'Brien, a managing director and head of BlackRock's institutional investment management business in Europe, Middle East and Africa, who went to J.P. Morgan in August as global head of its institutional client group.
The recruiter, together with a senior industry executive familiar with BNY Mellon who also declined to be identified, said that after hiring Mr. Arledge, BNY Mellon executives agreed not to poach anyone else of consequence from BlackRock for three years.
BNY Mellon spokesman Mike Dunn declined to comment, as did SSgA spokeswoman Marie McGehee, J.P. Morgan spokeswoman Kristen Chambers and GSAM spokeswoman Andrea Raphael.
In a statement, BlackRock spokeswoman Bobbie Collins said: “As a global organization with talented staff, we know that we will inevitably lose people. But we endeavor to treat our clients, vendors and competitors with respect and hold ourselves to the highest professional standards of partnership.”