Mesirow grows its municipal presence; names first woman CEO

BY SourceMedia | MUNICIPAL | 07/01/22 09:30 AM EDT By Christine Albano

Chicago-based Mesirow is continuing to add new professionals to its capital markets and public finance operations to grow its footprint in the municipal industry.

Mesirow has hired Elizabeth Funk, a veteran municipal underwriter who specializes in high-yield bonds, as managing director in the institutional sales and trading municipal underwriting group. She is the seventh new hire for the municipal division in the last 12 months to join the independent, employee-owned financial services firm.

Funk began her new role on this month and she adds extensive experience in both competitive and negotiated municipal underwriting.

?I am pleased to join Mesirow as the firm expands its geographic presence and service to clients and prospects,? Funk said in a release. ?I was drawn to Mesirow?s financial strength, sophisticated understanding of the municipal market, and focus on corporate social responsibility.?

The expansion is being launched under the new leadership of Natalie A. Brown, who is being elevated to CEO. Brown becomes the sixth CEO of Mesirow in its 85-year history and the first woman to serve in this role.

As part of this succession plan, Richard S. Price, transitions from chairman and CEO to executive chairman.

Brown joined Mesirow in 2018, most recently serving as the firm?s president. Prior, she was chief financial officer and chief administrative officer. Before joining Mesirow, Brown, 51, spent 18 years at Nuveen, where she held senior accounting, finance, and investor relations roles.

Prior to joining Mesirow, Funk was the managing director of underwriting and debt capital markets at Hilltop Securities. In addition, she previously also had senior positions at Citigroup (C), and Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Active in industry groups, Funk is a partner and program mentor for the Municipal Bond Women?s Forum and a national board member for Women in Public Finance, where she co-chairs the mentorship committee.

She is also a volunteer mentor at Rock the Street, Wall Street, which strives to bring racial and gender equity to the financial markets and create career pathways for high school girls into the industry.

Funk replaces David Officer, a municipal underwriter who spent three and a half years at the firm, but is no longer there, according to a spokesperson.

Funk?s arrival follows the recent addition of several other capital markets professionals earlier this year.

Daniel Toboja joined the firm on May 16 to lead the institutional sales and trading high-yield municipal trading desk.

Toboja, a veteran trader with more than 15 years of experience managing trading desks and trading general and high-yield bonds, will use Mesirow?s credit research and established trading desk to diversify Mesirow?s product offering.

He most recently served as the director and head of Midwest trading/pre-paid gas at Citigroup (C).

Blake Oslan joined the ranks of the municipal department as a salesman in April to enhance its distribution capabilities.

Oslan will focus on expanding Mesirow?s coverage to different institutional clients, including banks.

Sam Gruer is the newest banker to join the firm?s New York public finance office, arriving in March, continuing the expansion of the firm?s public finance banking division which began last year, with the recent hiring of three other new bankers around the country.

?Strategically expanding our team and capabilities is a vital part of our commitment to serving clients,? Jeff Levine, chief operating officer of institutional sales and trading said in a press release on Tuesday. ?These seasoned professionals bring specific skills that will enhance our ability to provide high-quality sales and trading solutions."

Mesirow institutional sales and trading department has more than 60 traders, sales professionals, and analysts and provides market analysis, individualized service, customized investment strategies and The department does $146 billion in annual trading volume as of March 31, according to data provided by the firm.

Over the last two years, the team has acted as underwriter on more than $41 billion of negotiated public sector financing transactions, according to Mesirow data.

With no debt on its balance sheet and a broad set of capabilities, Mesirow is well positioned to offer clients broad, strategic diversification, risk mitigation, and the ability to grow through changing market cycles, the firm said.

The new hires are part of the long-term business plan ?to bring expertise to clients that they may not be able to get at other firms,? a spokesman told The Bond Buyer.

The firm anticipates adding to its capital markets operations, including municipal banking, trading, and sales capabilities, in the months ahead, according to the release.

?We are continuing to look for talented salespeople and bankers in the municipal world, as well as adding talent in the taxable sectors,? a firm spokesman said Wednesday.

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