For Sean M. Healey, the most gratifying aspect of working for nearly a quarter of a century at Affiliated Managers Group Inc. is the deep relationships that developed with employees, money management partners, clients and investors during his tenure.
While he acknowledged in an interview that one of AMG's more tangible accomplishments is the 1,186% growth of assets under management by the firm's 39 affiliated investment boutiques to $831 billion in the 24 years ended March 31, he stressed "one of the best things about working at AMG has been watching our employees grow and celebrating their successes with them as their partner."
Mr. Healey served as CEO of the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based firm from 2005 through the end of May, when he was named executive chairman. He has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and is stepping back from active involvement in daily operations to receive medical treatment.
Nathaniel Dalton succeeded Mr. Healey as CEO; he was president, chief operating officer and an AMG co-founder.
Prior to being recruited to AMG as executive vice president in 1995 by then-CEO William J. Nutt, Mr. Healey was an investment banker in the mergers and acquisitions group at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Of the financial companies he worked with while at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Healey said he found asset management companies to be particularly interesting and attractive because of "the unique elements, especially in active management. In 1993, in comparison to big banks and other financial institutions, active money managers put a primacy on people. There was something magic about the brilliance of a relative few individuals who could take an idea and together create a culture and value, and generate alpha for their clients."
Mr. Healey's fascination with and admiration for active management was a good fit for AMG, which was launched in 1993 to assemble a lineup of active managers.
Mr. Healey attributed AMG's success primarily to its practice of creating incentive-oriented partnerships with investment boutiques by acquiring minority stakes — typically amounting to a 30% share of the revenue of the manager — in contrast to its larger competitors at the time that nearly always acquired 100% of the equity of small managers.
"In 1995, it was not obvious that there was something wrong with the other firms' approach, but it was clear to us that there was something right about an approach that was more partnership oriented," he said.