Casey Quirk founder dies

John Casey
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John Casey, a long-time consultant and co-founder of several consulting firms, including Casey Quirk, died last week of a heart attack. He was 77. Casey Quirk is best known in Australasia because of its director Benjamin Phillips, who orchestrated the sale of the business to Deloitte.

Casey, who died at his home in Wilton, Connecticut, retired in 2015 as chairman of Casey Quirk, which he co-founded in 2002. He was a well-known and respected presence in the institutional investing industry for nearly 50 years.

In 1969, he started his career in finance at Paine Webber, where he was among the group that formed Evaluation Associates. In 1976, he co-founded Rogers, Casey & Barksdale, which later became RogersCasey, one of the more prominent investment consulting firms advising pension funds.

Following the acquisition of RogersCasey in 1996 by investment analytics company Barra Inc., Mr. Casey continued in his roles as vice chairman and board member following the acquisition until his co-founding of Casey Quirk. That firm was sold to Deloitte Consulting in 2016.

“Kevin Quirk, Casey Quirk’s principal and founding managing partner of the firm with Mr. Casey, said in a phone interview that he regularly spoke with Mr. Casey following his retirement in 2015, to catch up and sometimes to seek his counsel. It was then he really knew why clients wanted to talk to him.

He was one of the most fun people you could be around, Mr. Quirk said, which was also clear the very first time they met.

“The first time I met him was an interview in 1995 and it was really interesting,” Mr. Quirk said.

“When I got out of college, I worked on sailboats for a couple of years. I always viewed that as a little bit almost like a black mark on my resume that no one ever talks about, and it was the only thing that John wanted to talk about. I think we spent about 30 or 45 minutes of that time talking about my sailing experience.”

Mr. Quirk was, of course, hired. When he asked Mr. Casey years later about that interview, Mr. Casey said the sailing stories interested him because he saw Mr. Quirk as a person who is willing to take a little bit of a different path and that said a lot about him.

“He was super generous,” Mr. Quirk said. “He cared about people more than about anything else. Business was important, but people were the most important (of all).” The P&I article published last week said.

People used to joke that “John knew everyone,” said Michael Clowes, former editor of Pensions & Investments, in an email.

“One joke was that a crowd filled St. Peter’s Square and an American could barely make out two figures on the balcony of St. Peter’s. The American turned to an Italian youth and said: ‘Is that the pope up there?’ The youth responded: ‘I don’t know if that’s the pope, mister, but that’s John Casey with him,’” Mr. Clowes said.

Mr. Casey was long seen as an elder statesman in the industry and the list of projects he spearheaded is impressively lengthy. In 1987, he took on his first money manager project when General Electric Co.’s in-house pension management team asked him to analyze whether they could compete for external asset management business. Three years later, Lawrence Lasser, CEO of Boston-based Putnam Investments sought Mr. Casey’s advice on how to transform the then $40 billion fixed-income manager into a larger diversified firm.

During his career, Mr. Casey also played a critical role in the formation of Brinson Partners (now part of UBS) and Artisan Partners, was a long-time advisor to Barclays Global Investors’ leadership team and sponsor of the iShares exchange-traded funds business.

“I’m in a part of the industry where longevity is a friend, not an enemy,” Mr. Casey said in a 2008 interview. “I’ve watched the industry we see today evolve from its very beginning. Money management was just a cottage industry that exploded with assets growing so rapidly because of pension funds and the rise of mutual funds.”

Chris J. Battaglia, publisher of P&I, said: “He was a true pioneer in our business, and someone who contributed so much to investors, consultants, and the money management community. John’s contributions moved the asset management and pension business from a ‘cottage industry’ to a global business and improved the outcomes for millions and millions of plan participants through his efforts working with plan sponsors and the industry.”

Casey is survived by his wife of 54 years, Bridget, and three daughters. The family will host a celebration of his life later in 2020, following a private service and burial, a spokeswoman said.

*Pensions & Investments is the premier investment specialist publication in North America.

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