CHICAGO - Veteran St. Louis-based public finance banker Richard Ryffel joined retail stalwart Edward Jones this month - his hiring coming one month after Banc of America Securities LLC cut his position and others in St. Louis, Chicago, New York City.

Ryffel, 45, had worked at the broker-dealer arm of Charlotte-based Bank of America Corp. for nearly six years, serving as a the Midwest team leader. During his tenure, he helped boost the firm's local rankings and hired several public finance professionals. He moved over to Banc of America after a 12-year tenure at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., which merged last year with Wachovia Corp.

Ryffel, a general government banker, lost his job last month along with a handful of others in St. Louis as Banc of America scaled back its operations in St. Louis. The cuts were part of a larger elimination of 650 positions in global markets and investment banking as the bank struggles with losses associated with the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

Since the firings were announced, Ryffel said he was approached by several firms, settling on St. Louis-based Edward Jones for its reputation, local prominence, opportunities outside of public finance and its commitment to growth.

"It's committed to growth in this business and it's always more exciting and challenging to work at a firm that is growing," Ryffel, a managing director at Edward Jones, said yesterday. He added his respect for the firm's local philanthropic work and business model as other factors that contributed to his decision.

Ryffel also has a long standing professional relationship with the firm and its head of investment banking Bret Kimes that dates back to their joint tenures at A.G. Edwards. Banc of America and Edward Jones also frequently partnered on proposals to issuers that were seeking a strong retail marketing component.

"We have known Rich for a long time as both a competitor and a collaborator and know him to be a skilled banker with solid banking relationships," Kimes said of the firm's decision to pursue Ryffel. Kimes joined Edward Jones in 1999 and was promoted to manager of public finance in 2002 and then to head of corporate and public finance banking in 2006.

The firm this year announced a five-year goal to expand its number of retail brokers, called financial advisers, to 17,500 from a current level of 11,000. Ryffel's hiring brings to nine the number of bankers the firm employs in its four locations. Six are located in St. Louis, one in Raleigh, one in Phoenix and one in Houston.

Kimes said he believes the firm has the public finance infrastructure in place to accommodate the expected increase in product that the hiring of additional brokers would demand. But the firm is evaluating potential staffing needs in all of its offices and is looking at opportunities to establish offices in new cities or regions, he added.

As a retail firm in an industry where large bond sales are primarily geared towards institutional buyers, Edward Jones doesn't command high rankings in the senior manager category. It ranked 27th nationally last year among co-managers on $2.2 billion of debt, 26th in 2006 with $1.8 billion and 22nd in 2005 with $2.4 billion. It ranked 13th in the Midwest last year, 12th in 2006 and 12th in 2005, according to Thomson Financial.

Bank of America ranked ninth nationally for the last three years among senior managers with $17.1 billion of bonds, 15th in the Midwest and 5th in Missouri.

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