June 28, 2018 / 8:55 PM / 9 months ago

Hedge fund Bridgewater eyes giving employees more power

BOSTON (Reuters) - Bridgewater Associates, the world’s biggest hedge fund, on Thursday unveiled plans for a partnership that will give employees a bigger say in how the firm is run.

Billionaire investor Ray Dalio, Bridgewater’s founder, along with co-chief investment officers Bob Prince and Greg Jensen, said the new partnership structure is designed to strengthen the firm so it can be employee-owned and employee-controlled.

The new model, part of Dalio’s 10-year transition plan, was announced to employees and clients earlier on Thursday and was first reported by the New York Times.

At age 68, Dalio has often said that he has no plans to step away from his roles as co-chief investment officer or co-chairman any time soon. Last year he gave up the title of co-chief executive officer, but he has also pushed the firm to consider succession planning, a topic that has long vexed many other founder-led hedge funds.

Bridgewater manages about $160 billion, according to its website, and is known for a unique culture of “radical truth and radical transparency” whereby intellectual conflict is encouraged to promote a meritocracy of ideas, avoiding traditional office politics.

The trio said they have selected a group of seed partners, which the New York Times said includes co-chief executives David McCormick and Eileen Murray, to work with provisional partners in laying out aspects of the partnership.

Dalio, Prince and Jensen envision the partnership can become a center of leadership, ownership and governance, but they cautioned that this will not happen overnight and will take time to figure out and get right.

Bridgewater, which has long generated respect and envy on Wall Street, does not shy away from experimenting with structures or people to come up with new ideas to ensure the firm can outlive its founder.

There has been notable staff turnover in the last years. In 2016 Dalio returned as co-CEO after a shakeup of the top ranks when Jensen, who has been with Bridgewater for decades and was already co-CIO stepped down from his role as co-CEO. McCormick and Murray joined Bridgewater within the last decade.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss

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