Schankel, longtime Janney bond analyst, retires

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Alan Schankel, a longtime municipal bond analyst and managing director at Janney Capital Markets in Philadelphia, has retired.

“I’ve officially retired. It’s a little quick, but that’s life,” Schankel, 70, said in an interview on Tuesday. “I am excited for the next chapter, as they say.”

Schankel, a Philadelphia native, joined Janney in 1987 to head a 10-person municipal bond trading desk. He managed the firm’s fixed income department out of its Logan Square headquarters and served on its management committee and board of managers.

“Alan was a giant in the Philadelphia municipal bond community and he and his insightful municipal market commentary is certainly going to be missed,” said Tom Kozlik, who worked with Schankel from 2008 to 2015 and is now head of municipal strategy and credit at Hilltop Securities in Dallas.

“What stands out to me when I think about Alan are the countless conversations he and I have had over the years about the municipal bond market and municipal credit,” Kozlik said. “Those conversations surely made a positive impact on my thinking, and I will miss them.”

Schankel’s focus was on muni research, analysis and strategy. He published regular commentary and reports in “The Daily Fix” about municipal bonds and other fixed income markets. Local and national media, including The Bond Buyer, quoted him frequently.

“I enjoyed the people and I enjoyed the evolution of municipal finance going back to when I started,” Schankel said. “I just liked the small-town nature of the municipal bond market.”

Eric Kazatsky, head of municipal strategy at Bloomberg, worked at Janney from 2015 to 2017.

“Alan was an invaluable resource both during my time at Janney and after,” Kazatsky said. “Alan’s career allowed him to discuss a myriad of market cycles for our market and off the top of his head reference any number of historical deals and structures; a gift that is often looked over in today’s sole focus on new issues.”

Kazatsky added that Schankel was always upbeat no matter what time of day.

“I could always count on Alan to be the only one around at 6:30 a.m. to happily discuss muni bonds and I will miss his insight,” he said.

In the Jan. 8 Daily Fix, Schankel examined New Jersey’s first general obligation bond issuance since 2016 and how a $500 million New Jersey Economic Development Authority sale on behalf of NJTransit would be “a more relevant test” of that state’s perceived credit risk.

He also commented on Georgetown University’s downgrade and the University of South Florida’s upgrade.

“Alan Schankel has always been attuned to the nuances of the business for the benefit of the investors he covered,” said John Hallacy, The Bond Buyer's contributing editor and a longtime public finance professional. "He was acutely aware of the difference that details would make. I wish him well."

Schankel began his career with investment firm Hornblower & Weeks, Hemphill, Noyes & Co. in 1967, where he worked in two stretches in between a two-year stint as a U.S. Navy corpsman.

Before joining Janney, Schankel also worked for Butcher and Singer, Tucker Anthony and N.D. Meyer and Cos.

He served on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s fixed income committee and a regular arbitrator for FINRA dispute resolution. He is also a past president of both Bond Club of Philadelphia and the Municipal Bond Club of Philadelphia.

“I enjoyed working with local governments even though I hadn’t been working with them as much lately,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed writing, which I’ve done most of my career. I’ve also enjoyed targeting individual investors and teaching them about municipal bonds.”

Schankel found the late James Lebenthal an inspiration in muni finance.

“I just liked his attitude, ‘build it with bonds,’ “ he said of Lebenthal, who pioneered the use of radio and television advertising to market and distribute municipal bonds to retail investors. Lebenthal died in 2014.

A graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Schankel has done postgraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and Rutgers University, Camden.

According to Schankel, public finance will remain viable.

“I think that so much public financing will be needed,” he said. “Public finance will be very important. How to service the dollars, that is changing rapidly.”

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