Joseph J. Roberts, a director of institutional sales at M&T Securities Inc., has decided to step down at the end of 2013 following a 48-year career in the financial markets, mostly in the municipal bond industry.
Roberts spent 46 of those years focused on munis in roles including trading, sales, underwriting and public finance. Along the way, he made friends and colleagues who’ve worked with him and known him for decades.
“During my time in our industry, I have been very fortunate to have participated in many areas of municipal finance,” Roberts wrote last week in a letter to friends and colleagues. “This diversified exposure has given me the opportunity to work with some of the brightest and nicest people one would ever want to meet. I believe that the bond business has a very rewarding future, and I wish you only the best in your careers.”
Roberts worked most of his career for Baker, Watts & Co. — and later Ferris, Baker, Watts, Inc. — as well as Folger Nolan Fleming Douglas. He’s spent the last five with M&T in the capital markets division.
“What I like most about the business was the people I got to interact with over my career,” Roberts, 68, said. “Personal relationships aren’t quite what they used to be. Now, a lot of the business is being done electronically.”
Roberts hired Scott Krug, currently managing director of institutional trading at M&T Securities, Inc., out of college to work on the trading desk at Baker Watts in 1976. Krug, who credits Roberts for teaching him the business, remembers his straight-forward, down-to-earth approach with clients.
“There’s not a pretentious bone in his body,” he said. Roberts “just says it like he sees it. Everybody really trusts him, because they know he always will give them an honest opinion.”
Jim Dugan can vouch for that view. Currently co-chief investment officer in fixed income at Brown Advisory, Dugan has known Roberts since 1985. Back then, Dugan worked as a credit analyst at a property and casualty insurer, while Roberts was a bond salesman with Baker Watts.
“Joe would doggedly pursue any piece of information I was looking for as an analyst,” Dugan said. “As a trader, he was always open to conveying price information with his trading desk. And as portfolio manager, he was a very adept in making sure that I was aware of the new issues that they were involved in and the relative value in sphere of the municipal market.”
Roberts has been past president of the Municipal Bond Club of Baltimore, the Baltimore Securities Traders Association and the Bond Club of Baltimore. Roberts served on the NASD District Number 10 Committee and was chairman of its business conduct committee.