Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Charlotte banker taking top post at Baird investment bank

A long-time Charlotte banker will soon take on one of the top spots of the Robert W. Baird & Co. investment bank.

Brian McDonagh, a five-year Baird veteran by way of Wachovia, will become one of two co-heads of the Milwaukee-based company's investment banking operations on Jan. 1.

McDonagh told the Observer on Tuesday his new role is an indication Baird is committed to Charlotte as a center of investment banking activity. Though he doesn't say it, this is is significant since Charlotte-based Bank of America has all but removed its investment banking presence in the city in favor of New York City.

Brian Doyal, the other soon-to-be co-head, is based in Chicago. The roles oversee about 250 bankers in offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia.

McDonagh spent the first decade of his career doing mergers and acquisitions work at a company that later became part of JPMorgan Chase. He came to Charlotte in 1996 to build out the M&A business at First Union Securities. The bank bought Charlotte middle-market investment bank Bowles Hollowell Conner in 1998, and later merged with Wachovia.

McDonagh left Wachovia for Baird in 2008 to open the company's eleventh investment banking office and become its co-head of global M&A.

Wachovia alums still make up the five-banker shop off Piedmont Row Drive. But Baird's overall investment bank has grown significantly. The firm has added 27 managing directors, beefed up operations in Asia and posted record investment banking revenue for the past three years in a row.

When he takes on the role, McDonagh will also shepherd an entry into Brazil.

Baird wants to add investment bankers in Charlotte as well. While it doesn't have any specific headcount targets, McDonagh said the company would be interested in picking up bankers who want a change from a universal bank (read: Bank of America and Wells Fargo) or the cluster of boutique investment banks in the city.

Baird appears to have taken a shine to Charlotte lately. The company's wealth management office has plans to grow from 13 to 25 financial advisers over the next few years, and office manager Landrum Henderson told the Observer in March the company was considering moving more back office and research operations to Charlotte to create a Southeastern hub.

Baird also has a fixed income sales and trading office in Charlotte.