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T. Rowe Price's Head of Fixed Income Departs

Mike Gitlin's jump to Capital Group was unexpected. 

Katie Rushkewicz Reichart, CFA, 01/22/2015

The unexpected departure is a loss for T. Rowe. Fixed income has become increasingly important to the firm in recent years as it tries to better balance out its domestic-equity-heavy fund lineup. Under Gitlin's leadership, T. Rowe's headcount on the fixed-income team grew to 76 in 2014 from 33 in 2007, with particular emphasis on adding quantitative resources and building an emerging-markets corporate-debt team from scratch. The new resources were put in place to support several new funds, including T. Rowe Price Emerging Markets Corporate Bond TRECX in 2012, T. Rowe Price Credit Opportunities PRCPX in 2014, and the expected 2015 launches of T. Rowe Price Global Unconstrained Bond and T. Rowe Price Global High Income Bond.

Unlike Wiese, Gitlin did not have experience running money before taking the job, which was a deviation from most of T. Rowe's top executives. He also was not a T. Rowe lifer, as many executives at the firm are, joining in 2007 as global head of trading after holding sales and trading roles at Citigroup and Credit Suisse. Yet he proved to be a strong people manager and effective leader during his tenure, working to increase career path opportunities for analysts and improve succession planning. On his watch, the fixed-income team has generally had good retention of its investment staff.

Wiese, 55, brings years of investment experience to the role, though his responsibilities will significantly change as he starts managing a large team and becomes more involved in the firm's broader business plans. He is already a member of the fixed-income steering committee, which Gitlin chaired. Gitlin was also a trustee on the fund board for T. Rowe's fixed-income funds and served on T. Rowe Price Group's TROW management committee.

Michael Reinartz, the associate portfolio manager of Short-Term Bond since 2013, has been named comanager of the fund alongside Wiese. Reinartz is a 15-year T. Rowe veteran with a background in quantitative analysis. It's unclear if Wiese will remain in the portfolio manager seat for the long run.   

Gitlin's move is unusual because T. Rowe executives tend to stay in place, but it's less surprising as he was not home-grown talent. It's also an interesting decision for Capital Group, which is not known for making many external hires. However, Capital Group has been making efforts to bolster its fixed-income operations in recent years. Thus a high-level hire from a respected outside firm could provide some fresh insight, particularly in some of the areas Gitlin has focused on in recent years.

 

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Katie Rushkewicz Reichart is a senior mutual fund analyst with Morningstar.

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