CHICAGO — St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Raymond James & Associates is hoping to carve out a bigger chunk of senior-manager business in the Midwest with two new public finance hires in Chicago, one to bolster the firm's local government team here and the other to focus on large governmental issuers.

Omar Daghestani joined the firm earlier this month as a managing director to work on large issuer efforts out of the Chicago office while Wendy Flaherty joined last month as a director to concentrate on smaller local governments, school districts and water and sewer issues.

"The goal has been to build out our business in the Midwest since I was hired last year and we have spent a lot of time interviewing bankers to find the right fit," said Linda Matkowski, head of Raymond James' Midwest general government group.

The Midwestern effort is part of a national expansion underway for the last several years as the firm grabbed professionals shed by its larger competitors after the 2008 financial crisis. Matkowski joined last year from PMA Securities.

"We needed a banker who can manage the needs of the large issuers and another for local governments. Both Omar and Wendy are technically strong bankers who also are nice people with integrity. They are team-oriented so they are a great fit," she said.

Daghestani most recently worked at Barclays Capital, where his clients included Chicago, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other major Midwestern issuers. He joined the former Lehman Brothers just before its acquisition by Barclays following the firm's 2008 collapse. He previously worked on the public finance banking teams at Citi and UBS. Carole Brown, who hired Daghestani at Barclays and then moved to another firm, returned to the broker-dealer last month.

Flaherty most recently worked for First Trust Portfolios, where she managed a small public finance banking group for the last three years. She joined First Trust in 2005 as a banker and quantitative specialist. She previously had worked as a banker at the former Griffin, Kubek, Stephens & Thompson.

The two join a Chicago team that has primarily focused on the middle markets and the health care sector. Matkowski, Tom Chapman, and Linda Byron work on the government side while Steven Benov and Natalie Wabich work on health care. Matkowski said the firm remains in the market to hire additional professionals who can provide technical support for the banking team, including an analyst.

The firm ranks 23d so far this year as a senior manager in the Midwest on 19 deals worth $210 million, according to Thomson Reuters. It finished 38th last year in the Midwest as senior manager on 31 deals worth $302 million. It ranks 15th nationally so far this year with 102 deals valued at $1.8 billion and finished 25th last year senior managing 131 deals worth nearly $2.7 billion. It ranked 30th last year nationally among senior managers of small issues.

With Daghestani, the firm is hoping to sell larger issuers on its abilities, which include the capital capacity to underwrite sales of up to $4.9 billion.

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