The financial empire run by Richard Strong, a Midwestern money management powerhouse with more than 1,000 employees before a market-timing scandal erupted in 2003, is down to its last employee, who is turning off the lights at the Milwaukee-area enterprise.
Strong Financial Corp. sold its mutual fund, institutional and defined contribution businesses — accounting for $29 billion in assets — to Wells Fargo & Co. in May 2004, one week after Mr. Strong was banned for life from the financial industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He had resigned as chairman in late 2003.
But other Strong entities have lived on as shells of their former selves.
Now John Widmer, president of Strong Financial since 2005, is down to supervising himself. He said a controller and a secretary were let go earlier in the year as the process of paying more than $150 million to wronged investors came to a close.
The remaining entities — Strong Financial, Strong Capital Management, Strong Investments and Strong Investment Services — have not traded securities since 2004 and were delisted by regulators, said Mr. Widmer. He and his staff of six remained active selling the Strong office complex to Wells Fargo, hiring an independent consultant to determine the details of a reinstitution package to wronged investors and a third-party administrator to pay those claims; and other administrative tasks, such as subleasing office space originally occupied by Strong's technology group.
Mr. Widmer and his staff were not involved in the actual reimbursement decisions; they oversaw and acted as a resource to help the independent consultant understand the investor data, he said.
Mr. Widmer filed in May with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to dissolve the remaining entities.