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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A 51-Year-Old Boutique's CEO Passes the Torch

Reported by Ana Garcia Conway

A 51-year-old, $17.5-billion-AUM boutique asset manager's chief is preparing to pass the reins in five months.

Frank Hartranft Reichel
Thompson Siegel & Walmsley, LLC
PM, Outgoing CEO
On January 1 2021, John Reifsnider, the president of Thompson Siegel & Walmsley (TSW) will take over as the firm's CEO. Reifsnider is succeeding current CEO Frank Reichel (age 56), who is also a PM at the Richmond, Virginia-based firm. A successor to take on Reichel's role as PM, for the portfolio he manages with chief investment officer Brett Hawkins, has not been named.

John Lawrence Reifsnider
Thompson, Siegel & Walmsley, LLC
President, CEO-Designate
TSW continues to be "slow and deliberate" in choosing successors, Reifsnider told MFWire. "Team dynamics are paramount. We want to make sure the team dynamic is not disrupted by bringing in someone else too quickly."

"We've got some time," Reifsnider added. "We've got an experienced group of people at TSW."

After the handoff, Reichel will leave TSW's board of managers, though he will stay on with the firm as a senior advisor until September 2021. And Reichel will be selling his TSW stake in the coming weeks. (BrightSphere owns 75 percent of TSW, while the remaining 25 percent is held by management.)

As for the soon-to-be-promoted Reifsnider, he said he will "hang on to both roles [president and CEO] for the foreseeable future."

Riechel and Reifsnider represent the third generation of leaders in TSW's 51-year history. "We love the stability our organization provides clients and employees. Not a lot of boutiques stay around for 50 years and three generations. We've got a really good business, good location, really loyal clients," said Reifsnider.

As the new CEO and president, Reifsnider will continue to "make sure that the people who are producing and have a good performance have all what they need." Reifsnider reiterated that he will continue to focus on onboarding and client experience. To him, client experience is what sets TSW apart.

"Honesty when we're underperforming, humility when we are over-performing. Once people are inside TSW they want to stay there. We will continue that mindset. We're not perfect, but we like to think the people who do business with us love the experience," said Riefsnider.

Reichel has been a TSW leader for about 20 years, taking on different roles, including CEO, president, CIO, and PM.

"Frank has been a fantastic asset for the firm," Reifsnider said. "He put the firm on the map in the institutional world. He hired a lot of the successful analysts here. We are gonna miss him."

Reifnsider told MFWire that he and Reichel, who has been managing portfolios since around 1993 , had been working closely for the last two years while running the business together.

"We're [TSW] in a good spot," Reifsnider said, adding that Reichel, "is a successful guy. He will continue to be successful."

"Frank has done a fantastic job. He's had a great career. Now is an opportunity for him to take some time away," said Reifsnider. "What we try to do is the best work we possibly can. We take client experience very very seriously. You can't control performance on a daily, weekly, yearly, basis; but you can control when people are there and the type of experience they have. We don't feel like we have to be a massive distribution chain. We don't want to be as big as Blackrock or Vanguard. We want to be really good and create a great client experience."

Reifsnider has spent 15 years at TSW. Prior to his two year role as president, Reifsnider was a managing director, focusing on institutional marketing and client service.

For Reifsnider, a paramount objective is to "grow at a reasonable rate. And as we're growing, continuing the experience our clients had when we were small. Grow at a rate that creates opportunity. Some people take in too much money, and grow too fast."

Reichel stated: "TSW remains focused on the same strengths and principles that marked our founding — careful planning, a commitment to our associates, and a dedication to meeting the long-term needs of our clients." 

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