A Legacy Continues at Siebert Brandford Shank

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Suzanne Shank, co-founder of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., is looking ahead to the new year—and she really likes what she sees.

"2016 is going to be a big year for us. In October, we will be celebrating our 20th year in business," she said in an interview last week with The Bond Buyer. "And we will celebrating it with our new partners—Henry Cisneros, William C. Thompson, Sean Duffy, and Victor Miramontes."

Shank said the firm expects to be part of a solution to America's infrastructure needs, in which state and local governments work more closely with the private sector.

"We are not looking to replace the municipal bond market," she said "Rather, we are looking at ways to supplement it with private investment."

The full-service investment banking and financial services company was built upon the ashes of the former Grigsby Brandford & Co., a minority-owned firm which was founded in 1981 by Calvin Grigsby. Napoleon Brandford III became a partner at that firm in 1985 and Shank became a partner there in 1991.

Shank along with the late Muriel Siebert and the now-retiring chairman Brandford started SBSCO in October 1996 and hired many ex-staffers from Grisby Brandford after that firm dissolved. And the new firm hasn't stopped growing and expanding since.

Under the recently announced realignment plan, Shank will become the new majority owner of SBSCO as well as its new chairwoman; she remains chief executive officer.

The late Muriel Siebert founded her investment company in 1967 and became the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Under the plan, Siebert Financial Corp.'s ownership interest in SBSCO will be acquired.

But all of these changes are just a continuation of a legacy that the trio envisioned at the firm's inception to keep the company growing, Shank said.

"Henry and Victor are both highly respected and regarded as businessmen and as public officials. We are thrilled they are coming on board," she said. "And Bill and Sean have been more than helpful with their tireless efforts in growing the business."

Cisneros became the first Latino mayor of a major U.S. city in the 20th Century when he took office in San Antonio in 1981.

He was Secretary of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency from 1993 through 1997, and later founded Cisneros Asset Management Co.

Miramontes has over 25 years of experience in investment banking and finance. He was CEO of the North American Development Bank, a founding partner of Cisneros Asset Management and co-founder and vice chairman of CityView.

Thompson has been chief administrative officer and senior managing director of Siebert since 2014, previously serving as New York City Comptroller from 2002 to 2009.

Duffy, managing director and head of institutional sales and trading at Siebert, is a 34-year municipal finance veteran who has worked for PaineWebber, Loop Capital Markets, Printon Kane and William E. Simon & Sons.

The company has been making new hires throughout the year.

In September, Siebert named Wei-Li Pai as national head of its Quantitative Solutions Group and Philip Wasserman as senior vice president, both in the company's New York office.

Pai has more than 28 years of finance experience working for Loop Capital Markets, Public Resources Advisory Group and Public Financial Management.

Wasserman worked in NYC's Office of Management and Budget and also served as Deputy Treasurer for the Transitional Finance Authority and as Vice President for Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corp. In the private sector, he was a Vice President at Merrill Lynch.

For its Philadelphia office, Siebert hired Rasheia R. Johnson as senior vice president. Johnson is a 15-year public finance veteran and previously worked for Loop and PFM and served as assistant to the director of finance for debt management for the City of Philadelphia.

Since its founding, Siebert has transacted more than $2 trillion in infrastructure financing in the United States.

In May, Shank was named to the Executive Council on Infrastructure convened by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., a national panel dedicated to boosting private investment in infrastructure.

"Municipalities cannot alone bear the burden of funding some of our aging infrastructure," she said.

She said that the board has already held several meetings and is now moving from the preliminary planning stage into the solutions stage. And said there would be some new developments coming out in 2016.

In 2010, the firm was the first minority-owned firm ranked by Thomson Reuters to be among the top 10 senior managers of municipal bonds. And since 1998, it has been ranked as the top minority and women-owned municipal finance firm. It is headquartered in New York and Oakland and has 17 offices across the country.

"As we grow into the future, we are looking to get the edge with clients," Shank said. "With our new, dynamic ownership and realignment, the firm is poised to have an even greater impact."

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