After 25 years in the municipal bond industry, senior portfolio manager Ronald H. Fielding — one of the longest-serving investors in the industry and a pioneer investing in tobacco bonds — has announced that he will retire from OppenheimerFunds Inc. effective May 20.

The announcement comes on the heels of a three-and-a-half year, gradual transition period in which the firm’s municipal bond team, led by senior portfolio manager Dan Loughran, has been preparing for the departure of the 60-year-old muni market veteran.

The team manages 18 municipal bond funds, including 12 state-specific, three limited-term, and two AMT-Free funds, as well as one high-yield fund with $21.6 billion of combined assets under management as of Wednesday, according to the firm.

 Fielding has shared management of all the funds in recent years, even during the transition.

Loughran, who has been with Oppenheimer for 15 years, will continue to handle the day-to-day administrative aspects for the group and management of all 18 funds as he began doing three-and-half-years ago when Fielding first decided he wanted to retire and he relinquished those duties to focus solely on portfolio management.

There will be no major changes in the structure of the municipal team, or the tax-exempt mutual fund product line as a result of Fielding’s exit.

“There’s certainly no help-wanted sign out. With my departure and the people who have been here, they have all been trained in our approach to municipal fund management and will take over the responsibilities” of the funds, Fielding said, pointing to key staffers, including senior portfolio managers Scott Cottier and Troy Willis from the seven-member management team, and Rich Stein, who leads the nine-member credit team.

Fielding says his retirement is long overdue, noting that he has outlasted many of the professional colleagues he knew when he started in the industry some 25 years ago.

“The average age for senior portfolio managers is 40; only some are over age 50,” he said. “I would say 3% of senior PMs are not over 55, and I just turned 60. I’m pretty ancient.”

 

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