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April 12, 2019  

IMN Quietly Swaps Out Buy-Side Leader

Information Management Network has suddenly replaced the head of its new investor group.

Jim Muller had been overseeing the Fixed Income Investment Network since its launch in July 2018. He was dismissed without warning on March 15, with IMN bringing over David Blide from a publishing post at affiliate Euromoney Institutional Investor to take his place.

Sources said the switch took place without the knowledge of FIIN’s board, which encompasses 18 investment professionals. Among them are Tom Denkler of AIG, Alessandro Pagani of Loomis Sayles & Co., Scott Seewald of New York Life and Jeffrey Smith of Charles Schwab — each the head of his employer’s structured-finance investment team.

One board member said he only learned about the leadership switch when Muller emailed the group to say goodbye. “I thought things were running reasonably well,” the board member said. “And it really wasn’t clear to me whether this was Jim’s choosing, or if someone else made the decision.”

Initially, FIIN was billed as broadly representing the interests of buy-side participants. Under Muller’s leadership, the group’s membership grew to nearly 100 while its mission took shape as encompassing a range of education and advocacy efforts — including the identification of a replacement for Libor.

Some industry particpants also perceived FIIN’s formation as an attempt to lure members away from Structured Finance Industry Group, in retaliation for the elimination of an arrangement under which IMN co-hosted its annual “SFIG Vegas” and “SFIG Canada” conferences. But Muller had downplayed any ill will, characterizing FIIN’s growth as complimentary to SFIG. To that end, SFIG allowed FIIN to host a private membership meeting at SFIG Vegas 2019, which took place in Las Vegas on Feb. 24-27.

An IMN spokeswoman said Blide was brought in “to move FIIN in a different direction focused on education and peer-to-peer engagement among investors.” Blide already is drafting bylaws and methods for communicating FIIN’s positions within a diminished advocacy role.

He too denied any tension with SFIG. “I can’t foresee there being anything antagonistic with SFIG,” he said. “We prefer working with them. If they have something to say that’s really good for the industry, we may want to enjoin with their comment or point of view.”

Muller joined IMN from the former ITG in 2012, initially serving in a business-development role. Blide, a former Thomson Financial employee, was publisher of Institutional Investor Journals since 2004.