First Southwest Co. announced last week that it has hired Gary Akers and Richard Konkel in its Orlando office to help boost the firm’s business in one of the fastest-growing states in the country. Akers and Konkel came to First Southwest from Stifel Nicolaus and brought First Southwest’s Florida-based professional muni bond staff to seven. “It’s a very important state for us,” said Jack Addams, head of public finance at First Southwest. “It is a key part of our whole First Southwest strategy.” Florida grew by the third-largest amount among all states, adding 2.1 million new residents from 2000 to 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This 13.2% population increase also made Florida the sixth-fastest growing state as measured by a percentage of its total population. First Southwest is the fourth-busiest financial adviser in Florida this year, according to Thomson Financial data pulled Wednesday. The Texas-based company had advised on 12 issues totaling $1.2 billion through the end of Tuesday. First Southwest was the sixth-busiest financial adviser in Florida during 2006 and finished second in 2005. Nationally, First Southwest ranks second among financial advisers this year, with 570 deals worth a combined $26.7 billion, the Thomson data showed. Prior to joining First Southwest, Akers was a senior vice president at Stifel and spent 29 years gaining municipal underwriting and financial advisory experience, First Southwest said. Addams described Akers as a generalist, and the firm listed work with counties, municipalities, airports, utility authorities, and special tax districts among Akers’ experience. “He’s done virtually all kinds of deals,” Addams said. “He’s also pretty well known in the state of Florida because he’s been doing it for 29 years. Konkel also came from Stifel, which he joined in June 2006. It was his first job in the municipal bonds market, while his earlier background included time working as a consultant in industries such as health care and financial services. Konkel will also work as a generalist at First Southwest, though he will specialize in school credits, Addams said. Konkel’s mother was a school teacher, he added.
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