Changes at Putnam May Mean New Hiring

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Newly appointed Chief Executive Robert L. Reynolds appears to have big plans for Putnam Investments. That may mean good news for job seekers.

The former Fidelity Investments executive has outlined an ambitious agenda to boost the fortunes of Boston-based Putnam, which is trying to stem the tide of investor redemptions. Reynolds plans to add new products and bolster his research staff, according to media reports. The Boston Globe quotes him as saying "cost cutting is not on my agenda," and that "no company has ever cut its way to greatness or success." Bloomberg News reports Reynolds told a conference call "we want the best team in the field and if we need to go outside the business to do that, that's what we are going to do."

The past few months have already seen big changes at the firm. On June 11, Putnam named Gerald Sullivan and Bob Brookby, from American Century Investments, to manage its U.S. Large Cap Equity Group which includes the Putnam Investors Fund, the Putnam Tax Smart Equity Fund and the Putnam Capital Appreciation Fund. In February, Josh Brooks and Eric Harthun took over as co-managers of the Putnam Classic Equity Fund. Andrew Matteis was recently named director of U.S. large cap equity research. And earlier this year, Putnam hired Jenny S. Morton as global head of consultant relations. Putnam has also hired portfolio managers from MFS along with four analysts and a director of sales and marketing for the Nordic region.

"The firm is taking steps to fill up these very senior positions ... It seems like they are not struggling with finding talent," says Wenli Tan, an analyst with Morningstar who follows Putnam. "It sounds like they realize their research efforts need to be built out. I don't think it's going to be complete revamping of its research staff."

Seeking Juniors

More junior positions are also being filled. On July 14, the company will welcome 20 new investment associates into its Investment division through its Early Career Development Program, which is designed to recruit and train investment management professionals. The associates will undergo a two week "boot camp," where they will rotate among the investment division's core areas - fixed income, large cap equities, small cap equities, currency and global asset allocation. "In mid-September, the IAs will be placed within an Investment team based on markets, non-U.S. currencies, and inflation-protected securities," explains spokeswoman Laura McNamara.

To be sure, more key positions need to be filled. Tan points out that Putnam has not replaced financial analyst John Coffey, who left last year. Moreover, Matteis directs both the equity and fixed income research efforts, something which is highly unusual, according to Tan. "I can't think of another large fund shop where one person serves both roles," she says.

Putnam currently has $175 billion in assets under management, less than half of what it had in 2000, according to the Globe. "They have their work cut out over there," observes Tan. "(Reynolds) has to make sure that shareholders regain confidence."

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