Profile: Anne McNiff Tatlock '61

By Georgette Weir

No question. After thirty-seven years in the business of managing money, Anne McNiff Tatlock '61 is on a lofty peak, and not just because her office is in the cloudy reaches of the World Trade Center. In the fall, she was named chief executive officer of Fiduciary Trust Company International-a major Wall Street investment firm. She is an active member on prestigious boards, both nonprofit and profit: Vassar College, the Mellon Foundation, American Ballet Theatre Foundation, the Cultural Institutions Retirement System, the Teagle Foundation, Fortune Brands, Inc., American General Corporation, and Merck Pharmaceutical. She is deigned "guru" by the business press and is consulted for her stock preferences and economic forecasts. She is sought after, admired, and very, very busy. 

But don't call her a workaholic. The Wall Street Journal Europe did when it anounced her latest promotion, and she is quick to dismiss the adjective. "I would never describe myself as a workaholic," she says during a Thanksgiving weekend phone interview. As evidence, she cites her active life outside the office with the above mentioned nonprofit boards, her involvement with her family (husband William and three children: Julina, who is working with Geraldine Laybourne '69 at Oxygen; Kerry '93, working at a sports marketing company; and son Christopher, 16, in high school), and her sporting interests that include tennis, skiing, and hiking. "I would describe myself as responsible and very busy."

No question.

Tatlock is a star by almost any conception of the word, but she is one who prefers to point out the constellations. "Stars have a way of losing their shine," she says while discussing her preferred corporate culture, which might be best described as collegial. "A company shouldn't be held hostage to stars. It should be a collection of stars. Not every star can shine in all circumstances." At the company offices on the 94th floor of Two World Trade Center (Fiduciary has five floors in the tower), this philosophy is evident in the outside light that washes in over the partitions that mark off work areas, including that of the CEO and president.


Fiduciary Trust International is a global asset management firm with $46 billion under management; it is one of the oldest pure investment management firms still operating independently. Since it was established in 1931, the company has grown to employ nearly 700 people in nine offices around the world. It has one of the longest global track records for any U.S.-based manager, having invested in the international markets since the early 1960s, when it became an adviser to the United Nations retirement system. "Back then," she notes, "there wasn't a strong economic incentive for Americans to invest internationally. The domestic market was the strongest. Now, half the world's investment opportunities are outside the U.S. It would be pretty irresponsible not to consider half the world."

Tatlock herself entered the international arena somewhat later, when she joined Fiduciary in 1984, after rising through the ranks during 22 years with Smith Barney & Co. to become the highest ranking woman there. She immediately immersed herself in learning about investing globally.

"I spent four or five years really learning international markets," she says. "It wasn't that easy, and I wasn't sure I was going to succeed. I would read, but I didn't really have the points of reference. When a company makes a presentation, you have data that is built up in you, about a particular market-energy, communications, steel-but also about the culture, the political climate, the government, the people. To do that for 40 or 50 countries is daunting and very difficult. I did a lot of reading, but what was really important was making visits to people in government agencies, to business people-building up the visual and other references." Her work paid off, and in 1989 she was made head of the firm's international equity department. In 1994 she was named president.

Tatlock is known for being accessible and connected to all levels of her staff and business. She urges people, for example, "to become chartered financial analysts, so they have choices in their careers." A one-page profile issued by Fiduciary notes that she still manages a number of private accounts that she has had since the 1960s. At the same time, she has overall responsibility for the stategic management of the company and its various investment divisions, while continuing as an active member of its Global Investment Committee and the Investment Policy Committee. She travels frequently, not only visiting Fiduciary's scattered offices, but getting first-hand information about economic conditions around the world.


If nearly every press reference to Fiduciary notes its long experience in international markets, nearly every reference to Anne Tatlock notes her near uniqueness as a woman in the highest ranks of Wall Street executives. She approaches the issue of the status of women in business with a business orientation that, not coincidentally, proves beneficial to many women. "Any organization that doesn't view women as important is really up the creek," she says. "It's short-changing itself. The universe of talent is deeper when you include women."

But she is quick to note that what is most important is to attract and nurture the best talent, regardless of sex. "Promotion of women is important, but not more important than the promotion of men. Sex shouldn't be a determining factor in promotion. It should be about contributions, skills." Still, she adds, "Fiduciary is unusual. I had not appreciated it when I came, but there had been women here in the 50s and even one or two in the 40s. But success has blossomed in the last 10 to 15 years as women realized that their efforts would be recognized. Also, there are just far more women working the field now than when I started."

At Fiduciary, she notes, about 40 percent of the professional staff comprises women. "This is a field that attracts women because it is so analytical, it involves lots of communication, there is a lot of science but also a lot of creativity. It's like a massive chess game-something is always happening somewhere in the world that is changing the game. It's deeply engaging and lots of people thrive in this kind of environment."

How does she do it all? Focus, focus, focus ­and logistics.

She has strict criteria for her nonprofit board service, and these include geographic location and time of meetings. "All are in New York City, and meetings are mostly on weekends or breakfast meetings. I choose things that don't take me away from where I need to be." Also, she sticks to education, the arts, and culture. "I think you have to focus, otherwise you are not going to be able to leverage what you learn-if, for example, you try to spread yourself out among environment, arts, human rights, social service. I have an interest that's natural-issues of education key into defining the future. That is a big interest for me. Also, I have a big interest in theater arts. And they all feed into the Mellon Foundation-that board is like an intellectual jam for me," she says, laughing with delight.

This Poughkeepsie native is delighted, too, to be reconnected to Vassar, where her trustee service now includes chairing the investment committee. "I love being back and involved at the school. It keeps me in touch with reality. You get removed from the world sitting on boards and the 94th floor of the World Trade Center reading research reports. I'm very proud of Vassar and that the image of the institution continues to improve. It's great to say you're a Vassar grad when the current generation is so strong."

"Work stays with me often," she concludes, "but I try to be totally involved in what I'm doing at the moment. If you're not there, you don't get anything out of it. I try to be very focused on what I'm doing."