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Rating:Heartland's Nasgovitz Has His Succession Plan Together  Do You? Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, May 10, 2013

Heartland's Nasgovitz Has His Succession Plan Together Do You?

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

If you like chaos, drama, surprises and edge-of-your seat anticipation, don't work for Heartland Advisors.

Case in point: The slow and steady transition in power from founder Bill Nasgovitz to his son Will. The son will now take the reins as chief executive of the company, while the father will remain as chairman, chief investment officer as well as a portfolio manager.

Morningstar broke the news of the transition this morning. When MFWire interviewed Heartland executive vice president and head of distribution Dave Ribbens on the subject, Ribbens smiled a little at all the media attention.

We've been working on this transition for many years. This is just another step in the process. They've been shifting responsibilities for a while now. I guess this is noticeable because there was a change of initials involved.

OK. So, Heartland executive changes won't make it on any summer blockbuster lists. Maybe there is a lesson here for other fund firms.

Consider this.The elder Nasgovitz founded the company in 1983. The son was brought on in 2003. Twenty years to build a firm, and ten years to groom the kid as potential successor. And remember, the father is gradually shrugging off his responsibilities.

And this isn't the only example of Heartland's generational approach to management shift.

For example, senior vice president and portfolio manager Brad Evans assumed the role of Director of Equity Research in 2011, a position previously held by Dave Foundry. Evans is in his early 40s, while Foundry is his 60s.

"After almost 30-years of successfully growing the business, Bill recognized that we need to continue to evolve our management group in order to position ourselves for success over the next thirty years," Ribbens said.

Which then begs the question about other mutual fund firms. Some firms have, more or less, laid out the steps for the next generation if leaders, including John Commack naming Scott David T. Rowe'ssales and retirement czar and Ned Johnson appointing his daughter Abby Johnson president of Fidelity Financial Services.

There must be hundreds of firms that were founded in the seventies and eighties with founders hitting the 60s milestone. How many of these have succession plans, or will planning start only after the founder drops dead at the office? 

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