RobecoSAM rocked by co-CEO departures to separate firms

The manager has had five CEOs in as many years as executive problems persist.

RobecoSAM, the Zurich-based specialist sustainability manager, has been rocked by the departure of its co-CEOs, Daniel Wild and Marius Dorfmeister, at the same time, but to different companies.
Their exit comes less than a year after former RobecoSAM CEO, Aris Prepoudis, left the company – after just 18 months in post himself – followed by two Board Directors, as revealed by RI. That prompted the lift of Wild and Dorfmeister to the Co-CEO positions.
Wild, a respected research executive, who has been with RobecoSAM for 12 years, is leaving to join Credit Suisse, the Swiss banking group, as Managing Director, Global Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Strategy within its Impact Advisory & Finance (IAF) department, reporting to Marisa Drew, CEO, IAF. He will remain with RobecoSAM until a “handover and transition” has been made, the company says. Credit Suisse says he will join them later this year.
Dorfmeister, a marketing, sales and distribution specialist, will stay with the company through to at least the end of this month, RobecoSAM says.
He joined in January 2017 along with Prepoudis; the two had worked as a management team together at Vescore, part of Vontobel Asset Management.
Prepoudis left RobecoSAM in May last year. There has been no official announcement about where Dorfmeister is now heading, although sources in the Swiss market say he is moving to a small, boutique finance operation rather than a large fund management rival.
Wild and Dorfmeister both sat on RobecoSAM’s three-strong ExCo along with David Hrdina who heads the corporate services department covering compliance, riskmanagement, finance and performance management. The ExCo reports to RobecoSAM’s Board of Directors, which includes Gilbert Van Hassel, CEO of Robeco, the Rotterdam based fund manager and 100% owner of RobecoSAM. Together, the two firms run in excess of €100bn in ESG integrated assets. A matrix organisation between RobecoSAM and its parent means that some of RobecoSAM’s senior managers have functional reporting lines to their counterparts at Robeco.
Sources close to RobecoSAM believe that continued cultural differences and a mis-alignment of strategy may have precipitated the latest Co-CEO departures. RobecoSAM declined to comment. It said its Board of Directors was working on a succession plan for Wild and Dorfmeister. It will have to present the succession plan to the Swiss regulator, FINMA.
RobecoSAM has been through a torrid time in terms of leadership in recent years, with five CEOs exiting in as many years (including the two Co-CEOs).
Prepoudis’ departure after 18 months in post came after the unexpected exit of another former CEO, Michael Baldinger, to UBS Asset Management in 2016. In between, Reto Schwager, former Head of Private Equity, took the CEO role on an interim basis.
Kuno Kennel, Chair of the RobecoSAM Board of Directors, said: “Needless to say, we regret Daniel’s and Marius’ decisions. The Board of RobecoSAM will do everything required to establish a proper leadership setup for the future to ensure RobecoSAM can continue the successful business development realized over the past few years.”