Health care financing veteran Anne S. Morse joined the growing public finance team at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC last week, it was announced Thursday.

As a managing director of the newly created health care group, Morse will help the regional firm capitalize on what it sees as a clear opportunity to continue growing its footprint in the Northeast.

Morse said there is a lot of pent-up demand in the health care sector as many lower-rated issuers have been unable to access the market during the recent financial turmoil.

“Certainly the A-category and below have had real challenges accessing the debt markets,” she said in an interview. “The markets have now recovered considerably and we’re hoping that they continue to recover — there are a lot of deals that need to get done that basically couldn’t get done over the past year or two.”

The sector is particularly attractive to Janney because the bulge-bracket firms have only a passing interest in certain segments of the sector such as senior-living facilities, she added.

“There’s more than enough demand out there for a number of different underwriting firms to capitalize on,” Morse said. “Our goal is to add girth and fill the team out, but it will be on a carefully managed basis.”

Morse brings more than 20 years of health care experience to the job. Most recently she spent six years at Ambac Assurance Corp., where she had been a first vice president in the health care unit. She was also involved in Ambac’s attempt to create a municipal-only insurer last year, but she left when it became clear during the summer that the company wasn’t going to launch.

Morse also served as a vice president at Lehman Brothers from June 1998 to early 2003. Prior to that, she spent six years at Legg Mason Global Asset Management, working mainly on senior-living and acute-care finance.

Morse’s career began in hospital management when she spent three years at Universal Health Services Inc. After acquiring an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, she continued in the industry with health maintenance organization Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Morse reports to Chris Long, Janney’s head of public finance, and Steve Genyk, who leads the fixed-income group.

Long said the hire is part of the firm’s broader effort to expand from the generalist space to more specialized markets within public finance.

“What we’re trying to do is round out the face of this group so we can provide a boutique of services for the clients that we interact with on a daily basis,” he said. “We’re trying to fill out the dossier of the group to get it in position so we are a full-service public finance front for our clients.”

The Philadelphia-based firm is one of many medium-sized firms that have capitalized on the financial crisis. Janney more than doubled its staff in the last two years, increasing its footprint with talent snatched from bigger firms that have restructured.

Its underwriting business in the Northeast grew to 45 issues totaling $558 million last year from 20 issues worth $216 million in 2007. The 158% gain in underwriting pushed the firm’s regional ranking by five spots to 22nd last year from 27th in 2007.

So far in 2010, the growth has continued. From Jan. 1 to Feb. 24, Janney ran the books on 15 issues in the Northeast worth $112 million, ranking them 18th regionally.

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