Thomas Weisel Partners
, the new boutique investment bank started by
founder Thom Weisel, has added two more research analysts to its growing stable.
Faye Landes, for the past two years the No. 1 textile, apparel and footwear analyst according to
, has left
Salomon Smith Barney
to join Weisel's firm, starting today. In addition, Christopher Vroom has left his post at
BT Alex. Brown
, where he covered retail growth stories such as
, to join Weisel. Vroom, who will work at the firm's San Francisco headquarters, will follow electronic retailers in addition to some more traditional names.
Landes is joining three other new research hires in the firm's New York office. Paul Knight, also from Salomon, recently joined as a senior analyst covering applied technology; Perry Boyle, who was a BT Alex. Brown equity research managing director, tracks business services; and James Savage, formerly a BT Alex. Brown managing director covering electronics manufacturing, covers technology.
The additions bring the total number of senior research analysts to 15, says Ned Zacher, Weisel's director of research. He adds that the company now has about 200 employees, of whom 60 are partners. Plans call for hiring about 50 more people, including five partners.
On the research side, Zacher has raised eyebrows by luring talent from some of the larger Wall Street firms, something of a surprise given the new firm's emerging-growth focus. While he says half of the firm's partners hail from
, an independent boutique until it was snapped up in 1997 by
, the other half come from some of Wall Street's giants.
"We haven't missed in terms of getting someone we've really been after," he says, noting that the firm's partnership structure is a big draw. All senior analysts are partners, which means they take home $60,000 in salary and share in the firm's operating profits. "That's the basis of how we're recruiting people," he says.
That was a big draw for Vroom, who says the opportunity to build a new business in a partnership culture prompted him to leave BT Alex. Brown after 12 years of running the firm's retail practice.
The chance to own a piece of a start-up also enticed Landes, although, she says, "I've been very happy at Salomon." Landes wanted to cover more growth-oriented companies at a time when entrepreneurs are flourishing, too.
Landes has made a name for herself with solid calls at Salomon Smith Barney over the last few years. She was one of the first analysts to make the connection that casual Fridays would spur business at companies like
. Perhaps her most notorious call was downgrading
in the spring of 1997 after returning from a trip to the Far East, where she learned the sneaker giant was planning to trim production. Even though Nike executives disagreed with her conclusions at the time, her instincts proved prescient for the athletic industry, which has suffered setbacks for the past 20 months or so.
"Everything I've done has been focused on out-of-the-box research," says Landes.
Skeptics question whether Landes will be able to maintain that level of independent thinking at a small firm that depends on investment banking business for its lifeblood. But Landes quips: "Investment banking is part of the world we live in."