Pacific Investment Management Co. plans to cut its workforce by 68 people, or about 3 percent, and offer buyouts as assets under management have fallen since the September 2014 departure of Bill Gross, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg.
“Like any responsible business, PIMCO constantly adjusts its resources to capitalize on changing markets and investment opportunities for clients,” spokesman Michael Reid said in an e-mailed statement. “Our current business plans will reduce expenses in some areas while, of course, ensuring investment and hiring in others.”
Gross, who co-founded the firm in 1971 and built PIMCO Total Return into the world’s biggest mutual fund at its peak, left abruptly in 2014. PIMCO’s $1.5 trillion in assets under management are down 25 percent from their $2 trillion peak in the first quarter of 2013.
“The competitive demands of this industry require that we continually adapt and innovate to meet evolving client needs,” according to the memo signed by top executives.
The firm is cutting six dividend-income strategy funds led by a team including money manager Brad Kinkelaar with about $260 million in assets, according to the memo. PIMCO is converting its equity exposure to Research Affiliates Equity Income Fund. A year ago, the firm cut most of its in-house equities funds, leading to the departure of Virginie Maisonneuve, the deputy chief investment officer overseeing the traditional bond shop’s attempt to expand its business as a stock picker. Research Affiliates, founded by Rob Arnott, is already PIMCO’s only subadviser.
Fox Business reported the job reductions earlier Thursday.
The moves reflect the struggle active stock and bond pickers face in today’s marketplace, said Todd Rosenbluth, director of exchange-traded fund and mutual fund research at S&P Global Market Intelligence.
“Asset managers with a significant base of business from active funds are facing challenges from the trend toward passive ETFs,” Rosenbluth said. “While collectively fixed-income mutual funds continue to gather new money, PIMCO’s funds have experienced significant outflows in 2015 and the redemptions have continued in 2016.”
PIMCO reported about 2,300 total employees at the end of the first quarter, down 4 percent from 2,400 a year earlier. The firm reduced the number of investment professionals by about 5 percent to 720, according to its website. Other money managers, including BlackRock Inc. and Franklin Resources Inc., have also been cutting staff this year as they compete with low-fee competitors such as Vanguard Group.
Gross, who now manages the $1.4 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund, has sued PIMCO for “hundreds of millions of dollars,” claiming he was ousted by a “cabal” of managers who wanted a larger share of the firm’s bonuses. Pimco has denied the allegations and contends in a response to the lawsuit that Gross abandoned the firm, leaving behind a last-minute handwritten note of resignation.
“Mr. Gross ended his career at PIMCO with no notice or transition, disregarding the potential impact on the individual and institutional clients whose assets he was responsible for managing,” the firm said in an April court filing.
Assets fell to $86 billion in May from a 2013 peak of $293 billion at the PIMCO Total Return Fund. Other funds that have been bleeding assets include the PIMCO Emerging Local Bond Fund and the PIMCO Unconstrained Bond Fund