Eaton Vance board expands remit of rookie indie following conflict-of-interest retirement

Bylaws prevented Alan Bowser from overseeing CEFs while employed by investment adviser Bridgewater Associates

An Eaton Vance independent trustee prevented by a conflict of interest from oversight of some of the firm’s closed-end funds when he was appointed nearly a year ago has expanded his responsibilities after retiring from the day job that caused  the original conflict.

Alan C. Bowser, 60, who was appointed in April 2022 to oversee 111 funds according to a May 2022 Eaton Vance filing, is listed in a Jan. 4 filing as having expanded his purview to 130 of 132 funds, following his retirement from his position as chief diversity officer, partner and member of the operating committee at asset-management firm Bridgewater Associates, LP, earlier this year.

The filing included no specific explanations, but the limitation on Bowser’s initial role was due to bylaws prohibiting trustees from employment by another investment adviser, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. An Eaton Vance spokesperson declined to comment.

The Eaton Vance board added both Bowser and former Wells Fargo Asset Management executive vice president Nancy Wiser last April, just ahead of the retirements of long-time members William Park and Helen Frame Peters in July.

Before retiring in January, Bowser was a partner and chief diversity officer at Bridgewater, where he had worked since 2011. Prior to joining Bridgewater, he was a managing director and head of investment services at UBS Wealth Management Americas from 2007 to 2011.

Between 1995 and 2007, Bowser held various roles at Citigroup, including managing director and head of Latin America product sales.

The board’s other independent trustees include Wiser, 55; Mark Fetting, 68; Cynthia Frost, 61; Valerie Mosley 62; Keith Quinton, 64; Marcus Smith, 56; Susan Sutherland, 65; Scott Wennerholm, 63; and chair George Gorman, 70.

Eaton Vance president and CEO Thomas Faust, who also chairs parent Morgan Stanley Investment Management, is the board’s lone interested director.

Richard Froio is the fund’s CCO.

The board, which oversees 132 funds, maintains five standing committees — governance, audit, portfolio management, compliance reports and regulatory matters, and contract review — as well as an ad hoc committee for closed-end fund matters.

Total compensation for the independent trustees ranged from $348,179 to $457,125 for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2022, the latest period for which data is available.

Eaton Vance became the asset-management division of New York-based Morgan Stanley Investment Management following a high-profile, $7bn transaction in 2021 that boosted the firm’s global combined assets under management to $1.3trn globally as of Sept. 30, 2022.

Alan C. Bowser
  • Independent trustee, Eaton Vance Closed-end Funds, 2022 – Present
  • Partner and chief diversity officer, Bridgewater Associates, 2011 – 2023
  • Managing director and head of investment services, UBS Wealth Management Americas, 2007 – 2011
  • Various roles, Citigroup, 1995 – 2007