Hire Wire Aug 23 2011

Macquarie Poaches Wealth Managers From HSBC

By evelyn juan

Macquarie Private Wealth, the Canadian wealth unit of Australia-based Macquarie Group Ltd., has snagged a team of advisers from the HSBC Holdings PLC, which is in touch with at least two firms for a possible sale of its Canadian retail brokerage unit.

Nick Twyman and Bryn Gardener-Evans, who oversaw C$224 million in combined assets at HSBC, both jumped ship with two of their associates to Macquarie's branch in Calgary. Twyman, a portfolio manager, worked for HSBC for more than 14 years while Gardener-Evans spent three years with the bank, according to a Macquarie spokesman who confirmed the moves.

The two veteran advisers join Calgary's office under Peter Bacsalmasi. Macquarie has hired roughly 60 advisers since it acquired Blackmont from CI Financial Corp.

Macquarie has been put on the list of companies that could potentially buy HSBC but a Macquarie spokesman said the firm is not in talks with HSBC at this point. The firm, however, has hired roughly a dozen advisers from HSBC, which has about 130 financial advisers who altogether hold C$15 billion to C$16 billion in assets.

People familiar with HSBC's move to shop for a buyer of its Canadian retail brokerage unit said National Bank Financial, a unit of National Bank of Canada and GMP Capital Inc.'s Richardson GMP are both looking at the books of HSBC's Canadian retail brokerage unit.

National Bank Financial just bought Wellington West last month and has been looking to expand its footprint, particularly in the West. However, industry executives say a potential deal would be complicated between HSBC and National Bank Financial given that 60% to 70% of HSBC's retail brokerage assets are tied to the retail clients of HSBC.

"That could cannibalize the banking relationship of HSBC's clients. I don't know what HSBC would do with that," said a retail brokerage executive at an independent brokerage firm who declined to be named. On selling to Richardson GMP: "Have they got enough cash to buy?" the executive asked.

The representatives at HSBC, Richardson GMP, and National Bank Financial declined to comment.

The potential sale of HSBC's Canadian retail brokerage operations was first speculated by the Financial Post last week, prompting HSBC's wealth management head, Tim Pinnington to calm advisers in a memo.

Pinnington told advisers last week that the firm's strategy "has not changed" and stressed HSBC Canada head Stuart Gulliver's earlier statement that the Canadian business is not for sale.

On Monday, Globe and Mail reported that HSBC has opened up the books of its Canadian retail brokerage unit to potential bidders. The possible buyer wasn't identified but the paper said National Bank Financial is said to be in the running.

Should HSBC sell its retail brokerage operations, industry observers say a better fit would be merging with a non-bank firm such as Canaccord Financial Inc. or Raymond James Financial Inc.'s (RJF) Canadian brokerage unit if it wants to protect its retail banking relationship with its brokerage clients.

Evelyn Juan is a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires, where this story originally appeared. Write to her at evelyn.juan@dowjones.com

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