Hilltop expands in three states, says more growth to come this year

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Despite stresses on the public finance sector in a pandemic-driven recession, Hilltop Securities expects to announce more hires this year after a major expansion of asset management offices in California, Minnesota and Texas.

Brad Winges chief executive of Hilltop Securities

“We’re definitely in growth mode, whether people are working remotely or not,” Brad Winges told The Bond Buyer in a phone interview Thursday. “We have a chance to expand, and we haven’t changed that strategy one bit.”

Now in his second year as president and chief executive of Dallas-based Hilltop, Winges, formerly with Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis, said his goal of making the Hilltop brand synonymous with public finance has been achieved. The company was formed from the 2016 merger of First Southwest Co. and Southwest Securities.

“Our balance sheet and brand is really starting to be recognized,” he said. “We’re a new name but people didn’t realize we’ve been in the business 70 years.”

The latest round of expansions in St. Paul, Minnesota, Sherman Oaks, California, and Sherman, Texas added more than a dozen managers to the company’s growing ranks.

“We’re seeing a lot of opportunity to grow where people want to make a change,” Winges said. “There are a number of teams and talent out there looking for a steady, stable platform where the opportunity to grow is phenomenal.”

Hilltop’s specialization in municipal debt and fixed income appeals to wealth managers and their clients, Winges said. It also enhances the firm's capabilities in municipal advisory, he said.

“Municipals and municipalities have more pressure than they ever faced in my career,” he said. “They are asking what they can do in this environment and they need a plan.”

With 54 offices in 20 states, Hilltop specializes in public finance, wealth management and fixed income, and structured finance in debt capital markets.

“We are currently recruiting in all three verticals (Public Finance, Fixed Income Capital Markets, and Wealth Management). Our goal is to make the Twin Cities one of our key hubs for fixed income, wealth management, and municipal finance in addition to our other main hubs in Dallas and Beverly Hills.”

The company’s biggest move came in St. Paul, where seven top execs joined Teresa Aguilera, head of Hilltop Securities’ Strategic and Risk Management, in an office established last year.

Patrick Toutant, formerly of Piper Jaffray, moves to Hilltop as Private Client Group branch manager. At Piper, Toutant was a principal in fixed income services and manager of the company’s private client fixed income platform. He has 40 years of experience in the financial services industry, previously serving with Oak Ridge Financial and Stifel Nicolaus.

“I lived and worked in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for many years and I’m excited about our growing presence in this important market,” Winges said. “With representatives of our firm’s wealth management and municipal asset management businesses in our new St. Paul location, we look forward to further building our brand in the Twin Cities.”

Also new to the St. Paul office are director Louis Martine in its asset management division, managing director senior vice president Dan Steffes and client service associate Martin Binn in its Private Client Group, managing director Doug Jones in its Fixed Income Capital Markets division, and quantitative risk analyst Michael Johnson.

Managing director David Holleran, formerly chief compliance officer at the Roseville, Minnesota, municipal advisory firm Ehlers, Inc., is moving to Hilltop’s Dallas office. Holleran served as chair of the National Association of Municipal Advisors Compliance Committee.

Aguilera also joined Hilltop from Piper Jaffray where she was head of market analysis and business strategist fixed income sales and trading. She also served as head of quantitative analysis and risk for Piper Jaffray’s Hopwood Lane Trading, and has held risk management positions with MSCI and American Express.

Hilltop’s new Sherman Oaks office is its second wealth management office in the Los Angeles area. The firm’s Beverly Hills office was originally opened upon the founding of M.L. Stern & Co., an independent broker-dealer, in 1980. Hilltop acquired M.L. Stern in 2008. Leading the branch is senior vice president and branch manager Peter Cappos, a 26-year veteran of the firm.

In Sherman, Texas, north of Dallas, Hilltop added three financial advisors from Raymond James, managing more than $140 million in client assets. Reno Jones, Eric Kloppers, and Jarett Brugger represent 45 years of combined financial services experience, the company said.

Jones rejoins the firm as senior vice president, financial advisor, after eight years with Raymond James. Prior to that, he served as a financial advisor with Hilltop Securities’ legacy firm, Southwest Securities, for nearly a decade. Jones has more than 23 years of experience in financial services.

“As economic uncertainty and market volatility persist, it’s important we continue adding experienced financial advisors who know how to guide clients through challenging times,” ,” said John Muschalek, head of Hilltop Securities Wealth Management and president of Hilltop Securities Independent Network.

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