BlackRock's ETF Guru Deborah Fuhr Steps Down

Funds giant BlackRock has revealed that Deborah Fuhr, its head of ETF research, is stepping down.

(July 22, 2011) — Deborah Fuhr, managing director and global head of BlackRock’s exchange-traded fund (ETF) research and implementation strategy, has resigned.

Fuhr is understood to be still working at BlackRock for now.

A source familiar with the situation commented that while BlackRock asserted that they were reorganizing, Fuhr resigned from the world’s largest and most prominent asset manager last week to accept another opportunity. “BlackRock’s news release about the reorganization of the ETF research team and Fuhr’s departure was written at best ambiguous, if not misleading, perhaps written to minimize the impact of her leaving,” the source, who asked not to be identified, commented.

The firm said in a statement that BlackRock plans to centralize all its ETF-related research in a new unit, known as the BlackRock Investment Institute. The institute will now be led by Lee Kempler, who joined the firm in April after serving as a director at consultant McKinsey.

In an e-mail, BlackRock spokeswoman Caroline Hancock confirmed that BlackRock’s ETF research will be “provided by the new BlackRock Investment Institute.” Additionally, the firm will be dedicating additional resources to expand its independent ETF coverage, Hancock asserted. While Fuhr will not be directly replaced, Russ Koesterich, global chief investment strategist for the firm’s iShares platform and a member of the BlackRock Investment Institute, will head the firm’s ETF research agenda.

Fuhr — who is almost universally regarded as the industry leader within the ETF space — joined BlackRock in 2008 after leaving Morgan Stanley, where she worked as a managing director.

“It’s been exciting to watch,” Fuhr told aiCIO, when asked last year about the growth of ETFs in the United States since she came onto the scene in 1997. “It’s transparent — on a daily basis — and a product I’ve always felt confident in. I could always go home and sleep at night knowing I was buying a product that was simple and did what it said it was going to do.”

To contact the <em>aiCIO</em> editor of this story: Paula Vasan at <a href=''></a>; 646-308-2742