Alex. Brown was forced to shut down its Annapolis, Md., branch in May when 19 of 23 brokers and staff left the prior month. All joined Boston-based Tucker Anthony, opening a branch in Annapolis and nearby Easton, Md. The brokers brought about §1 billion in assets, says a broker involved in the move.
Phil Russell, an Alex. Brown rep who left the Annapolis branch to head Tucker Anthony's Easton branch, says the complexion of Alex. Brown has changed since it was acquired by Deutsche Bank in June. "I decided I wanted to be at a firm that better served the private client," says Russell, a 17-year Alex. Brown veteran. "Alex. Brown is moving more to a focus on the corporate client."
Tucker Anthony last year hired a former Wilmington, Del., Alex. Brown branch manager, Charles Godwin. "We're not going out of our way to go after Alex. Brown people," Godwin says. "We're just focusing on consolidating the people who've already moved."
(The Annapolis branch was Tucker Anthony's first foray into Maryland. The firm opened Easton in May. In June, it started a Baltimore office when a group of four brokers and their assistants moved from Wheat First Union.)
Anxiety over the Deutsche buyout has caused problems with corporate services as well. Alex. Brown lost its head of domestic equity trading, Michael Misera, and two top equity traders a few days after the Deutsche acquisition closed.
Investment banking took a big hit when four managing directors in the health care division joined Credit Suisse First Boston at the end of June, taking about 35 analysts and staffers with them.
The number of brokers and managers leaving Alex. Brown has slowed since the Bankers Trust (BT) acquisition was finalized, says New York-based recruiter Mark Elzweig. But there still "seems to be a general mood of uncertainty. People aren't clear how Alex. Brown might fit into Deutsche. Brokers tell me they feel like Deutsche bought BT and just happened to get Alex. Brown, and that Deutsche isn't shy about closing units."
Deutsche Bank, however, has publicly promoted Alex. Brown's importance and is preserving the name. Rolf Breuer, Deutsche chairman, told The Baltimore Sun the day the deal was completed that, "I think Alex. Brown is here to stay."