So no-one is indispensible?

Nov 10 2010 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Modern organisations, we're often told, are complex networks of knowledge, relationships and stakeholders. The organization is far larger than any one person – and so no-one is indispensible.

Really? Jeff Meyer, chief executive of UK asset manager, Gartmore, is unlikely to agree with that analysis as he ponders the melt-down that has followed the announcement that their star fund manager, Roger Guy, is to quit the firm.

But Guy is just the latest in a series of high-profile departures which has seen Gartmore's value walk out of the door. Earlier this year, his fellow fund manager, Canadian Guillaume Rambourg, was first suspended and then resigned in the face of an investigation by the UK Financial Services Authority.

Two other fund managers are also leaving , including chief investment officer Dominic Rossi.

Critically, Rambourg and Guy together managed more than a third of the company's total assets after its IPO. Guy is said to have been unhappy about Rambourg's treatment and the company's over-zealous internal compliance rules.

But whatever the reason, the result of relying so much on just two individuals has been catastrophic. In less than a year, what was once one of the biggest hedge funds in the world has gone from a £5.5 billion powerhouse to asking Goldman Sachs to negotiate a merger or sale as investors pull out of its funds.

As one analyst told The Guardian, "Fairly epic value destruction has taken place ... It's like a football team that's sold all its stars…"

A clearer example of "key man risk" would be hard to find. So next time you're told no-one is indispensible, just remember how Jeff Meyer describes the fall out from Roger Guy's departure. "It has exceeded all my nightmares", he said.