While such a reaction would be normal from CEO Richard Weil—a longtime Gross pal—it wouldn't be unusual for other senior managers to view the sudden entrance of someone so high profile with trepidation.
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Not so, though, at least as far as could be told from a recent interview with several high-ranking Janus officials at their home office. The atmosphere, on the surface at least, is welcoming and enthusiastic.
"There's a lot of good that comes out of this," said Gibson Smith, the firm's gregarious CIO of fixed income whose position would seem most vulnerable to the new kid on the block. "The most important element is that it shines more light on us and what we've done. We've got a very strong and consistent track record. We're highly competitive versus virtually anyone else in the fixed income space."
Of course, that sort of company-line talk is exactly what you'd expect someone in Smith's position to say.
But he seemed genuine in discussing the benefits of Gross' arrival. He recalled the first time Weil approached him about what then seemed a purely theoretical chance of Gross joining the firm.
Two weeks later, he was with Janus, and Weil and Smith had a heart-to-heart.
"Dick and I sat down and talked about what this would look like. Dick was very direct in not disrupting the business we built," Smith said.
Gross was brought in to run a new vehicle Janus had launched—its unconstrained fund, which would, as its name implies, be able to focus on a variety of investment areas and risk objectives.
"We had just launched the unconstrained product. In the process of building the portfolio, we wanted to create a vehicle that investors could get to Bill with," Smith said. "Bill was very gracious. He said, 'I don't want to be disruptive.'"
Gross does not work at the main Janus office in Denver, preferring to remain in Newport Beach, where he was accused of exhibiting an autocratic style while running Pimco. Critics say he wasn't one to brook discontent, and he eventually feuded with former CEO Mohamed El-Erian.
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Such drama isn't likely at the Janus offices, for a variety of reasons.
"He's going to manage the unconstrained product in the way that he manages money, and (with) his views on the market," Smith said. "We're going to manage our business the way we manage our business—bottom-up fundamental, versus top-down macro for him."