Wells’ McCooey Poaching Deutsche Staffers

Wells Fargo has been luring prime-brokerage talent from Deutsche Bank as part of an ongoing effort to establish itself as a major prime broker.

In recent weeks, the San Francisco bank has hired four former Deutsche executives. Most recently, Patrick Travers, a senior sales professional, gave notice at Deutsche last week, with plans to join Wells’ nascent prime-brokerage operation in New York after completing a gardening leave.

The Deutsche connection reflects the influence of Eamon McCooey, who oversaw U.S. prime brokerage for the German bank before joining Wells last September. His mandate was two-fold: Jumpstart a so-called introducing brokerage business that Wells acquired via its 2012 purchase of Merlin Securities, while building a new unit focused on winning business from larger, more established hedge fund managers.

Wells’ efforts to expand the Merlin business, which caters to smaller fund shops, so far have met with mixed success. The three senior-most Merlin executives — founder Stephan Vermut, his son Aaron Vermut and sales chief Ron Suber — initially agreed to stay on board, but all left in early 2013 to join peer-to-peer lender Prosper.com. Now comes word that another senior Merlin executive, John Quartararo, will leave Wells on May 1, destination unknown.

Quartararo oversaw sales and marketing with Max Catalano in San Francisco. Catalano will remain on board as a regional sales head, reporting to Travers.

Other Deutsche staffers poached by McCooey include Carmelo Gulino and Michael Tompkins, who specialize in developing Web-based prime-brokerage products. They report to Todd Hodgin, head of product development for Wells’ trade-services business.

Another recent recruit, Chris Foley, spent 10 years at Deutsche supporting a number of key prime-brokerage functions, including negotiating terms with managers and advising them on their financing options. He, too, will spend about two months on gardening leave before joining Wells.

Deutsche is a top-tier prime broker, ranking fifth among banks catering to SEC-registered fund operators, according to Hedge Fund Alert’s Manager Database. Wells ranks 14th for now, though it’s expected to gain market share as it begins to compete with the major prime brokers in the coming months.

Before joining Wells, McCooey spent 13 years at Deutsche. His recruiting efforts have targeted other banks as well. For example, he recently hired Meg McGarvey from Barclays. She’s expected to start next month as a director. And Chris Ragan, a vice president in the prime-brokerage group at Goldman Sachs, resigned last week to join Wells as head of prime-brokerage risk. He first must complete a two-month gardening leave.

McCooey is still looking for other professionals to fill key legal, compliance, operations and capital-introduction roles.

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