The firm announced on Tuesday that Buxton will remain with the business as head of UK equities and manager of the Merian UK Alpha Fund and industry commentators welcomed the decision.
Ben Yearsley, director at Shore Financial Planning, said it is a good move, arguing it is “virtually impossible” to combine the roles of fund manager and chief executive. “I’d much rather have him as a fund manager”.
Likewise, Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen, said: “Running a business is naturally a full-time job and as such it will have taken Buxton away from the focus of fund management”.
“The good news is that Buxton will stay with the business. This will provide a smooth transition and support for the incoming CEO, while Buxton’s focus can be entirely on markets as head of UK equities and managing the Merian UK Alpha fund. It is good to see Buxton back to full-time fund management,” he said.
Commenting on his decision, Buxton said: “2018 was a momentous year for Merian Global Investors. With the management buyout and rebranding complete, I believe this is the appropriate time for me to hand over the CEO role.
“I am completely committed to the business and I will continue to be involved in its development, in my role on the board. Having known Mark for many years, I am absolutely convinced that he is the right person to take the business forward.”
Subject to regulatory approval, Buxton’s role will be taken over by Mark Gregory, who joined the firm’s board in October 2018 as an independent non-executive director.
Prior to joining Merian Global Investors, Gregory spent 19 years at Legal & General Group plc, with the last four years as its chief financial officer. He is also a non-executive director at Direct Line Insurance Group plc.
He began his career in 1984 at PricewaterhouseCoopers and has a degree in maths and physics from King’s College London.
Since his move, Merian said Gregory has played an active role in developing the firm’s strategy. In the new role, he will be responsible for driving the growth of Merian Global Investors and will continue to sit on the firm’s board.
Sarah Bates, chair of the board, said: “Working with Richard has been a real pleasure; his passion and energy for the business is truly commendable and he has been instrumental in building Merian Global Investors into a market-leading asset management business.
“While we will miss his leadership, I look forward to his continued contribution to the company.”
“I’m delighted that Mark Gregory has accepted the position of CEO. He is hugely experienced and enthusiastic about the future of the business and I have every confidence that Merian Global Investors will continue to excel under his guidance.”
Following a handover, Buxton will step down from the business’s executive committee. However, as a major shareholder, he will continue to be involved in the firm’s development via his position on its board.
Buxton added: “My passion for investment is as strong as ever and I think there are some great opportunities in UK equities today.
“I will continue to seek undervalued and attractive businesses, while actively working with firms to improve corporate governance. I look forward to delivering long-term returns for our clients for many years to come.”