Sean Healey, asset management pioneer, dies at 59


Sean Healey, co-chairman and former chief executive of Affiliated Managers Group, the $600bn asset management business, has died of motor neurone disease aged 59.

Mr Healey drove AMG’s strategy of buying stakes in boutique investment companies, including Cliff Asness’s AQR, the UK’s Artemis, David Harding’s Winton Capital and activist investor ValueAct. He joined the business as a founding partner in 1995.

He was named chief executive in 2005, stepping down in 2018 after being diagnosed with the illness, which is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Following his diagnosis, he set up the Sean M Healey and AMG Center for ALS at Massachusetts General Hospital, raising more than $40m.

Jay Horgen, chief executive of AMG, said Mr Healey was an “inimitable leader, always exhibiting an indefatigable entrepreneurial spirit and unwavering dedication to friends, colleagues and affiliate partners”.

He added: “Sean transformed AMG from a nascent start-up into a leading global asset manager with an innovative partnership approach and unmatched track record of partnerships.”

Mr Healey joined the business from Goldman Sachs. Under the model he helped pioneer, AMG takes stakes of generally between 40-60 per cent in the businesses and works with them on marketing, distribution and leadership succession. Mr Healey also spearheaded AMG’s initial public offering in 1997.

Under his tenure, the company grew from just a few boutiques to one of the world’s biggest investment groups, with assets under management growing from almost $40bn at the IPO to $600bn today.

In an interview with the Financial Times, which was published in 2018 before he stepped down for chief executive, Mr Healey said that reflecting on AMG’s origins had made him realise “how much of life and success is luck”.

“The growth reflects good fortune, markets that have been up . . . it’s good luck, it’s over time good markets and great results by our affiliates,” he said.

A big supporter of active management, Mr Healey warned the biggest risk to the investment industry was the growth of products that had not been tested in a market crash, such as smart beta funds that take a passive strategy but modify it according to one or more factors.

Patrick Ryan, chairman of AMG’s board, said Mr Healey was also “a devoted philanthropist, father and husband”.

“When he was diagnosed with ALS, Sean did not miss a beat, channelling his leadership and entrepreneurial spirit into establishing [the Healey Center] which, typical of all of Sean’s work, has become an innovative force in medical treatment.”

AMG, which also owns stakes in Tweedy Browne, Systematica and Pantheon, said the Healey Center has since become the largest hospital-based ALS research programme in the world and supports a broad range of early stage trials of ALS treatments.

Mr Healey held several non-profit board positions, including serving as co-chairman on the board of trustees of the Peabody Essex Museum and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Visiting Committee of the Harvard Law School and the board of trustees of the International Game Fish Association.

Mr Healey died on Tuesday.

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