CHICAGO — Seeking to cement a spot among the top 10 senior managers by luring veteran bankers, Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. yesterday announced the addition of prominent Chicago-based public finance banker Carole L. Brown as a senior managing director and head of the Chicago office.
Brown will start at Siebert on Monday and report to president Suzanne Shank. Brown recently resigned from Mesirow Financial Inc. after just eight months. She had worked at Mesirow earlier in her career, but left a decade ago to join Lehman Brothers and manage its Chicago office.
She resigned after Lehman’s bankruptcy filing last fall and returned to Chicago-based Mesirow to help build its banking practice. Before joining Mesirow in 1994, Brown held positions at the former First National Bank of Chicago and Midwest Management Consultants.
Brown has strong issuer relationships, political ties — she has served as the chairwoman of the Chicago Transit Authority board since 2003 — and is well respected for her technical banking skills. Brown’s client list will include some local, Midwestern, and East Coast issuers.
“What impresses me most about Carole is her commitment to public service, and her understanding of client needs is unparalleled as an issuer and banker. She also has phenomenal technical banking skills,” Shank said yesterday.
In making the move to Siebert, Brown will be reunited with her longtime Lehman Brothers colleague and friend Elizabeth Coolidge, a managing director. Brown recruited Coolidge to join Lehman and the two worked together until early 2008 when Coolidge left the firm to return to Siebert, where she had worked earlier in her career.
The two will cover some clients jointly as they did at Lehman. “It’s a particularly good fit and very good partnership,” Shank said, adding that it was Coolidge who suggested and helped recruit Brown.
Brown was on vacation this week and could not be reached to comment on her move, but sources said her relationship with Lawrence Morris at Mesirow was strained. Brown had worked under Morris during her previous tenure at the firm, but in returning became the co-head of tax-exempt capital markets and managed the banking group.
In a press release, Brown said of Siebert: “I was impressed by the firm’s substantial growth in recent years, strong track record of senior managing large transactions, and commitment to public finance as its core business … I have also known both Napoleon and Suzanne and many of the firm’s bankers for many years. Siebert has an incredibly talented team of bankers, salesmen, and traders, and I look forward to working with them.”
Napoleon Brandford 3d is Siebert’s chairman.
Shank said hiring Brown marks a significant step in the firm’s efforts to land and maintain a spot in the top 10 rankings of senior managers. “We want to be a top 10 ranked firm and to do that you need senior level bankers,” Shank said.
The minority- and women-owned firm of about 65 banking, trading, sales, and other professionals expects to hire a few additional bankers in the near term. It has boosted it sales and trading and banking groups with targeted hires over the last two years, capitalizing on the layoffs at Wall Street firms and the exit of several firms from the public finance business. The firm recently also formed a specialty transportation banking group.
“We are talking to very qualified people who did great jobs but who have now had, in some cases, the rug pulled out from under them,” Shank said.
The firm closed out the first quarter ranking 11th among senior managers nationally. It ranks 12th so far this year, up from 15th the last two years. It ranked 16th in 2006 and 26th in 2005. It ranked 27th in the Midwest last year, according to Thomson Reuters.
Siebert Brandford has offices in 18 cities and notes that it that ranked fourth among co-managers on negotiated deals. Shank is based in Michigan and Brandford in California, but the firm calls New York City, where Muriel Siebert is based, its official headquarters.