BlackRock didn't sack Mark Wiseman for consensual sex

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BlackRock didn't sack Mark Wiseman for consensual sex

BlackRock moves quickly. It only emerged yesterday that Mark Wiseman, global head of equities, was leaving as a result of 'a consensual relationship' with a colleague and already all trace of him has disappeared from the corporate leadership page. Wiseman has been wiped.

Cue cries of outrage. How can a 48-year-old man have his career derailed by 'relations' with another consenting adult? BlackRock is being overly 'sanctimonious', according to some of Wiseman's defenders. It's also, maybe, shooting itself in the foot: Wiseman was hired externally in 2016 to turn around BlackRock's bleeding equities division and to add some new blood to the race to succeed chairman and chief executive Larry Fink. Without Wiseman, BlackRock will reportedly need to suspend deals some activity in its private equity fund. Without Wiseman, BlackRock is also left with a list of Fink successors who rose up through the ranks and who make the race look a little incestuous. 

BlackRock had, however, no choice but to bump Wiseman off. In the first place, he contravened the sacrosanct BlackRock code of conduct which says you have to report relationships with colleagues. In the second place, Wiseman's wife of 23 years, with whom he has two children, also works at BlackRock. And she was there first.

Marcia Moffat is the sort of successful woman with a background in neuroscience and a career in asset management who doesn't take her husband's name. Moffat joined BlackRock in the summer of 2015 to head BlackRock's Canadian business. Her spouse joined a year later.

In an interview last year with Financial News, Wiseman said he'd been speaking to Fink about a potential job for a while and was surprised when his wife went there first: “It was almost like friends talking to each other...Then along the way they hired my spouse. When they hired her I thought I would be the one who one day worked at BlackRock.”

Now Marcia is still at BlackRock and Mark is gone. As man who apparently likes routine, buys endless pairs of identical shoes and - presumably until recently - lived in the same house for many decades, Mark Wiseman might now be feeling a bit adrift. Then again, he told Financial Times last year that it's necessarily to 'evolve if you don't want to get eaten.' As a middle-aged man with a two decade-old relationship, evolving into a relationship with a junior colleague might have seemed natural. That doesn't make it wise or right.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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