Vanguard Loses Netherlands Head. Again.

January 10, 2006

Ronald Nagel jumps ship for AllianceBernstein after just eighteen months at the head of Vanguard’s Netherlands office.

The insider Web sites that cover the global pension arena are all a-buzz about the departure of Ronald Nagel from Vanguard's Netherlands office, pointing to turnover and turmoil in Vanguard's European management group.  Nagel jumped ship just thirteen months after taking over for Theo Van der Meer, who left Vanguard to join Fidelity last year.

"Vanguard said it remains committed to its European institutional business despite a number of executive departures," wrote Meagan Rees of Investments and Pension Europe, in detailed coverage.

Rees' lede implies that Vanguard's commitment is in question - a question that's been circulating for more than a year now.  The turnover in the executive suite has certainly fueled that rumor: Before Van der Meer and Nagel, Hank Beets resigned as head of institutional investors for northern Europe amid a flurry of recriminations.  The Beets break was so confrontational that it eventually landed in court, with Vanguard ordered to pay Mr. Beets 381,232 euros in compensation for the events surrounding his departure.

Vanguard vigorously denies any plans to turn its back on the European institutional market, saying, in fact, that it plans to increase its commitment in the coming months.  But given the persistence of these rumors, it's very much a "show-me" moment for Vanguard: Industry watchers will wait to see if Vanguard increases its product offerings in the pension market.  Until it does that, the fact that it does not have a replacement lined up for Mr. Nagel's office will only encourage the rumors of its soft exit from the business.

Nagel will join AllianceBerstein.

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