Siebert expands Michigan footprint with Grand Rapids hire

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Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. LLC has hired public finance veteran Phong Pham to lead its expansion into western Michigan and other parts of the Midwest with a focus on K-12 financing.

The firm, which already has a major office in Detroit, tapped the Michigan native to head its new Grand Rapids office.

Pham is a 20-year public finance veteran with experience in managing municipal bond issues for schools as well as large-scale municipal infrastructure. He joined the firm this month as a senior vice president. He previously worked for RBC Capital Markets in Phoenix. He has also worked for Michigan's state government.

Siebert Cisneros Shank was managing underwriter for eight issues in Michigan totaling more than $1.7 billion in par amount in 2018, according to the firm. The firm’s CEO and chairwoman, Suzanne Shank, and COO Sean Werdlow are both based out of the Detroit office.

“The firm having three senior bankers in Michigan is a very big commitment,” Shank said. “Most of our work historically has been in the local, Southeastern Michigan area or at the state of Michigan and we obviously are continuing to focus on those major issuers and those markets. With the opportunity to hire someone that was born and raised in Western Michigan that recently moved back to the area, had a great breadth of experience, it was a great opportunity for us to expand into an area where we wanted to be more focused in our marketing efforts.”

Pham called his move to the Grand Rapids office a "homecoming."

“I am eager to hit the ground running and ensure we are continuing to outcompete the rest of the field in this region, throughout the Midwest and nationally,” he said.

Pham spent 12 years at RBC in Phoenix for 12 years, where he worked with Arizona’s largest school districts and municipal issuers in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson. Prior to RBC, he worked in public finance for Stone & Youngberg. He has been involved in over 250 transactions totaling more than $10 billion par amount.

He has also worked in public accounting at Heinfeld Meech & Co and Deloitte & Touche in Grand Rapids. Early in his career he held various positions with Michigan Department of State, Department of Health & Human Services and Office of the Auditor General.

Shank said the firm is looking to use Pham’s experience in K-12 finance to push into that market in Michigan.

“That has been an area that we’ve been historically pretty active in, more recently with a lot of school districts in Texas and there have been a string of robust K-12 string of financings in Michigan but we want to be more focused on this and get back into that market,” Shank said.

At the state level, Shank says new Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration's plan to fix the roads is likely to create some opportunity for fresh business.

“The whole industry has hoping for a cohesive infrastructure plan to be announced out of the federal government in the last couple of years and nothing has happened but state and local issuers continue to have big infrastructure deficits,” Shank said. “[Whitmer’s] platform was that she wanted to fix the roads and we very much hope that a robust infrastructure plan will come forth and we think that plan will include both pay-as-you-go and bond financing. We are looking forward to competing for that business.”

Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., which has dual headquarters in New York City and Oakland, California, operates 18 offices nationwide.

The firm ranked 14th last year nationally among municipal bond senior managers and 35th in the Midwest, according to Thomson Reuters data.

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