BlackRock Inc. fired a top official over a consensual affair, the firm’s second high-profile dismissal this year over misconduct, as Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink cracks down on the behavior of his senior lieutenants.
Mark Wiseman, global head of active equities and viewed as a potential successor to Fink, was terminated for violating the company’s policy on work relationships, according to a memo that Fink and President Rob Kapito sent to staff on Thursday.
Global head of human resources Jeff Smith was dismissed in a similar way in July for breaking company rules.
The dramatic nature of the departures shows how misconduct is being scrutinized and penalized at Wall Street firms in today’s environment. They also underscore Fink’s willingness to make an example of even the top leaders at the world’s largest asset manager.
“I definitely think there’s a culture shift,” said Nancy Erika Smith, a lawyer whose clients have sued Wall Street firms for harassment and discrimination.
The colleague involved in the affair reported to Wiseman, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Globe and Mail earlier reported that the person was his subordinate.
Wiseman had been steadily gaining power at the firm since joining in 2016. He was chair of BlackRock Alternative Investors, in addition to his role at the helm of the active equities business.
He was in a group of about seven contenders widely thought to be in the running to replace Fink. His wife, Marcia Moffat, is BlackRock’s Canada country head.
Jeff Smith, the firm’s former global head of human resources, left after failing to adhere to company policy, Fink and Kapito announced in a memo in July, without giving more details. Both Smith and Wiseman were on BlackRock’s global executive committee.