Wells Fargo Securities hired four public finance veterans for key roles in its government and institutional banking group as it expands its housing and higher education teams.
Harper Watters, most recently associate vice president and treasurer for Cornell University, joins Wells as a managing director along with Lawrence Stephens, Rebecca Reape and Matthew Engler as directors, the firm announced on Monday.
“These investments in higher education and housing bankers just continues our service and commitment to the municipal bond business as we build out and serve our clients,” said Phil Smith, executive vice president and head of the firm’s government and institutional banking group.
Joining the housing team, Reape will cover state and local housing finance agencies and real estate development clients. Based in New York, she is a 19-year affordable housing veteran, previously working as a public finance vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, helping to expand that firm’s housing practice.
Engler, based in Boston, will cover state and local housing‑finance agencies and real estate development clients. He is a 15-year affordable housing veteran and was a Barclays director, helping increase that firm’s housing bond underwriting. Before that, he was a senior vice president for City Securities and an associate director at UBS Municipal Securities Group.
“Wells Fargo is proud of our longstanding commitment and presence in the mortgage markets, and we continue to expand our housing practice,” said interim head of public finance Nancy Feldman. “As the nation’s largest investor in low income housing tax credits [LIHTC] and the top lender in multifamily construction, we can now serve the needs of single and multifamily clients even better.”
According to the accounting firm Cohn Reznick, Wells Fargo is the largest investor in affordable multifamily housing in the United States, with about $9 billion in LIHTC investments over the last five years.
Joining the education and nonprofit banking team, Watters will be based in New York and will be responsible for expanding business with public and private institutions. A 23-year higher education and public finance veteran, he serves on the Treasury Symposium Program Committee at the Treasury Institute for Higher Education. Previously, he worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS Securities in their higher education public finance groups.
Stephens will be based in New York. A 19-year veteran in public finance, he was most recently a director for PNC Capital Markets’ New York banking and higher education groups. Before that, he was a public finance executive director at JPMorgan Securities.
“With these hires, we’ve added 40-plus years of experience in delivering public financing ideas and solutions for our clients,” said Sally Bednar, co-head of higher education. “We looked for senior bankers with higher education and nonprofit expertise to expand our practice and found these qualities in Harper and Lawrence.”
Additionally, Wells Fargo named an industry expert to the leadership team of the firm’s commercial banking practice. Donald G. Wenzel, Jr., a 25-year JPMorgan Chase commercial banking veteran, was named executive vice president and leader of business operations risk. He will work in both Charlotte and Louisville, Ky., and will help to ensure operational soundness in executing business processes.
“We take a very long term vision; we have been in this space for over 100 years. And we continue to acquire great talent as we grow our existing talent,” Smith said. “We are good now and the goal is to make us even better.”