CHICAGO - In a hiring mode, Chicago-based Mesirow Financial Inc. yesterday announced the addition of two Chicago-based municipal veterans - portfolio manager Joseph Piraro and sales professional Dominick Mondi - as the firm seeks to take advantage of Wall Street's staff cuts.
Piraro, 59, who started last week, will primarily work on the firm's municipal trading desk, while Mondi, who started a week earlier, will help lead the sales group. Piraro joined the firm after 16 years managing municipal portfolios at Oak Brook Terrace, Ill.-based Van Kampen Funds Inc. In taking the job, he returns to his municipal roots that were sewn for two decades on the trading desks of the former Continental Bank and First National Bank of Chicago.
Piraro most recently served as executive director and portfolio manager of five municipal bond funds with $2.5 billion of assets under management. Van Kampen cut eight to nine portfolio management positions in late May. Piraro was the only one that managed municipal holdings.
Mondi joined the firm after spending 28 years at Bear, Stearns & Co. as a sales professional in various capacities, including some time spent in management. Mondi's position was cut as part of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s acquisition of Bear.
"Joe's successful history in the municipal bond business is a perfect fit for our growing department," Bruce Young, vice chairman of the firm and head of the institutional sales and trading department, said yesterday. "Joe and Dominick, who have known each other professionally for years, will together help Mesirow Financial further develop relationships and service existing ones."
"These guys are knowledgeable and highly respected and don't move around a lot," he added.
The 71-year-old financial services firm expects to further augment its corporate and municipal fixed-income group with the possible hiring of several additional professionals given the layoffs that include industry veterans at Wall Street firms struggling with losses related to the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.
"We feel like it's a great opportunity with the disarray going on and talented people are available. Stay tuned," Young said.
The firm's main office is in Chicago with others in New York City and Pittsburgh. The firm currently has about 20 individuals in the sales and trading group who work in municipals, or on both munis and corporate securities. For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008, Mesirow posted $490 million in revenue, with more than $245 million in capital.
With expanded sales and trading capabilities, the firm also is in the market to add a banker or two to generate more product on the municipal side. The group currently has about eight public finance bankers that work under Lawrence Morris in Chicago. The firm added this past spring Todd Krzyskowski, who previously worked at JPMorgan.
The firm lost its only Pennsylvania banker with the death earlier in June of senior managing director Dwight White, a well-liked banker who was better known nationally as "Mad Dog" from his days as a professional football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He helped the team earn four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s as a defensive end as part of the original four-man Steel Curtain defensive line.
White, a native of Virginia who played ball at East Texas State University, died of blood clots that formed as he was recovering from back surgery. The two-time Pro Bowl player who retired from the National Football League in 1980 was 58.