Lopardo Reportedly Takes off from SSgA after Expense Dispute

July 20, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Nicholas Lopardo, chief executive of State Street Global Advisors (SSgA), has reportedly quit after a dispute with State Street CEO David Spina over the use of the firm's private plane.

According to the Boston Globe, Lopardo’s departure comes in the wake of an argument regarding expenses the firm paid to fly former Boston Bruin Ray Bourque to a City Hall celebration of his Stanley Cup triumph.

Portents of change were evident in a recent interview with PLANSPONSOR.com’s editor-in-chief Charles Ruffel. In that interview, Lopardo expressed an interest in cutting back on the hectic pace and travel schedule of the past 35 years. An avid sports fan, he hinted at buying a minor league sports team ? and Lopardo already has his own plane.

Volatile Combination

Lopardo, 54, a charismatic but aggressive salesman, joined SSgA in 1987. At that point the firm had a single office, 54 employees and $18 billion in assets and $14 million in annual revenue. Today, SSgA boasts 30 offices, 3,200 staffers, $702.8 billion in assets and, reportedly, some $760 million in revenues in 2000.

Lopardo’s bulldozing style was an occasional source of friction within the organization. The Globe reports that Monday’s clash was the latest in a series of conflicts. Though the matter seems minor, the dispute followed a period of discord and became the final straw that contributed to Lopardo’s decision to leave, according to the Globe report.

Lopardo was named a vice-chairman of State Street in 1997, and the hands-on daily management of SSgA was slowly turned over to deputy Tim Harbert. At the time of Spina’s appointment as icon Marshall Carter’s successor last year, industry experts acknowledged Carter’s ability to work with the visionary, yet independent, Lopardo. On the face of it, Spina’s relationship with Lopardo seemed sound too, but clearly tensions had begun to surface.

The most recent clash came in the wake of a State Street’s renewed emphasis on cost controls. Ironically, Lopardo had successfully built SSgA’s formidable asset base by relentlessly undercutting the competition on investment management fees.