Rice Financial ramps up hiring as it expands its muni market presence

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Rice Financial Products Co. has expanded its presence in the municipal bond marketplace with four new hires in New York City.

Curtis Harris, Gyliane Morgan and Patrick Wang have joined Rice’s municipal finance banking team while Ellen Rice Chever has joined the firm as chief of staff to Don Rice, the firm’s chief executive officer, the firm announced.

Rice Financial is the nation's fourth-ranked senior managing underwriting among minority and women-owned business enterprises, according to Thomson Reuters. The firm includes the parent company, Rice Derivative Holdings LP and several wholly-owned subsidiaries, including broker-dealer Rice Securities LLC. Rice Derivative Holdings is fully owned by Rice and has offices in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Miami, Atlanta and Columbus.
“A number of exciting new opportunities for growth have materialized for Rice Financial in 2018, including welcoming four talented professionals to our public finance team in New York City,” Rice said last week. “Curtis Harris comes to us with more than three decades of experience as a public finance banker as well as a prestigious educational background and record of military service.”

Harris, who joins the firm as a managing director, has over 30 years of experience in public finance and was most recently a managing director at Academy Securities.

He has served as the principal banker on a variety of infrastructure projects for municipal clients, including general obligation, utility revenue, transportation and education issues.

“I am thrilled to be here. It’s compelling for me to be a smaller firm — one that makes a difference,” Harris said. “We are a minority firm, but one that is top-rated and has the resources and people to do senior managed transactions. It shows you that you don’t have to be a major firm to get major business.”
Harris was previously a director at both Merrill Lynch and Barclay’s Capital. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point where he earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corp. Upon completion of his military commitment, he matriculated into the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School where he earned an MBA in Finance and Marketing. Harris serves on a variety of public boards, including the New York City School Construction Authority.

“Gyliane Morgan, another widely respected industry veteran, has brought her many years of experience in credit analysis to our municipal and education teams,” Rice said.

Morgan has joined Rice Financial as a vice president and was most recently a director of public finance at Kroll Bond Rating Agency.

Morgan has 30 years of experience as a credit analyst across the entire credit spectrum of municipal bonds, with particular emphasis on higher education, tax-backed, healthcare, and not-for-profit issuers. Prior to working at Kroll, she was a vice president at Radian Asset Assurance, a vice president at JPMorgan, and a vice president at Prudential Financial. She received her MPA in Public Finance and Financial Management and a BA from New York University.

“Patrick Wang, who holds a Master of Public Administration degree in Financial Management and Public Finance from New York University among other credentials, has joined our quantitative team,” Rice said.

Wang has joined the firm as an associate. Most recently he worked as a strategy consultant for the New York City Mayor's Office of Management and Budget as part of a graduate level requirement. He also worked as an intern analyst on the multifamily disposition and finance team at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development; as a project management analyst at the Bank of East Asia in Beijing; and as a risk analyst at Zhongrong International Trust Co. in Beijing.

Wang received a Master of Public Administration degree specializing in Financial Management and Public Finance from New York University and a BS in Economics-International Economics and Trade from the University of International Relations in Beijing.

“Ellen Rice Chever, a graduate of MIT and Georgetown University with extensive public sector management experience, is now working closely with me personally in matters related to firm operations, strategy and business development,” Rice said.

Rice Chever, Don Rice's niece, has joined the firm as a vice president and chief of staff to the CEO. She previously worked as a consultant at the Logistics Management Institute and was also on the institute’s health division’s business strategy and development team.

Prior to this, she worked as a health reform specialist at the senior-consultant level at the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and as a consultant at the Moran Co. She graduated from the MIT Sloan School of Management as a Dean's Fellow, received a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University and a BA from Hampton University.
Don Rice founded the company in 1993 to provide creative financial solutions for U.S. infrastructure projects. Since then, Rice Financial has served as a managing underwriter on municipal bond issues totaling more than $22.3 billion.

“It’s a value to customers to have a firm where you can get the CEO on the phone and a real value to employees where there are no layers of management to go through and multiple meetings to be had to be able to get things done,” Rice said.

He said the company, which started out as a derivatives firm, had chalked up a number of firsts, including interest-rates swaps that all worked out favorably, and the first taxable advance refunding of tax-exempt debt.

“Our firm is very analytical and quantitative in approach,” Rice said. “Curtis fits in very well — he is an engineer by training and I am an engineer before I went to Harvard business school — and my niece is also an engineer.”

He said the firm plans to continue providing technically innovative services to its customers.

“We don’t try to be everything to everybody. We are proud to produce a level of innovation and creativity as is written into our slogan — ‘Smart. Creative. Rice.’ ”

Rice said he looks forward to the rest of the year – and into 2019.

“The coming months and years are shaping up to be highly significant for Rice Financial, and these four experienced people will be vital to making it all come together,” Rice said.

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