Nobody tells Dreyfus Corp.'s institutional sales chief, Elie Genadry, what to do - especially not a bunch of bankers.
So when the mutual fund company's owner of two years, Mellon Bank Corp., ordered Mr. Genadry to count every penny spent at the sales unit he built from scratch 17 years ago, he got fed up.
The 52-year-old president of Dreyfus Institutional Services announced his resignation this week. He plans to move to California and open a consulting firm.
"Somebody running a firm like Dreyfus needs to keep a bank's bean- counter mentality away," he groused. "I didn't want to put up with that."
His departure, planned for Jan. 1, underscores how difficult it has been for the staid - some might say stingy - banking industry to absorb mutual fund companies into their culture.
"They clash about where to deploy resources," said Louis Harvey, president of Dalbar Inc., a Boston mutual fund research firm. "One guy is saying, 'We need highly paid portfolio managers,' and another is saying, 'I need money to upgrade the furniture in my bank.'"
Not that Mr. Genadry is totally down on Pittsburgh-based Mellon. Speaking on a cellular phone from his Jeep as he zipped across the New Mexico-Arizona border Tuesday, he allowed that Mellon had become more sensitive to the sales culture at Dreyfus.
The company backed off plans to cut his budget, he noted, for example. And he praised Mellon for starting equity funds and for reinvigorating Dreyfus' image with a new television advertising campaign.
But those efforts came too late for Mr. Genadry, who started a search more than a year ago for a new job. He is relocating to Santa Barbara, Calif., where he plans to run a consulting firm with partners to help banks manage their mutual funds. At the same time, he is negotiating a consulting contract with Dreyfus.
The departure of Mr. Genadry, whose division oversaw nearly half of Dreyfus' $85 billion of assets under management, surprised observers.
"Dreyfus seems to be on the upswing, attracting quality talent again," said Neil Bathon, president of Financial Research Corp., Chicago.
Officials at Mellon and Dreyfus did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Genadry griped that Mellon had taken too long to understand Dreyfus' sales culture. "Banks can't sell a lifeboat to a drowning man," he said.
In particular, he had to fight off Mellon executives who wanted to cap the compensation that his sales staff got for promoting Dreyfus portfolios to stock brokers, financial planners, and banks.
Moreover, Mellon wanted to enforce limits on travel expenses and restrict the number of trips by sales executives' to see clients, he said.
The announcement of his departure came seven months after the company reduced his oversight, limiting him to sales of money market funds through all intermediaries and sales of all mutual funds through banks.
Replacing Mr. Genadry is Charles Cardona, an executive vice president of the division. The company will no longer use the title "president" for the post, a spokeswoman said.
Those who know Mr. Genadry say he might find consulting more suited to his temperament.
"He was very aggressive in pursuing potential business, much in the same fashion as an entrepreneur. He wasn't a person to sit still," said Diane Coffey, a former Dreyfus spokeswoman, who is now chief administrative officer at Peter J. Solomon Co., an investment bank.
And Mr. Harvey, the Boston consultant, described Mr. Genadry's sales technique as "the infantry style of marketing, as opposed to strategic marketing. You go out and pound the pavement, presenting your product to customers, and eventually they'll buy."
But when Mellon took over, "instead of being able to deal with customers the way he always had, now he had to explain Mellon and why it's not a threat to do business with," Mr. Harvey said. "That changes your whole presentation. You need a new face. I don't think he was as quick to lead the change."
Mr. Genadry, who came to the United States from his native Egypt at 18 and later served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, has high hopes for Dreyfus despite insisting it has lacked sales savvy.
"It took them a year to wake up to that fact," he said, "but today, they've changed things around."