Paulson Capital Corp., based in Portland Ore., has been in business since 1970, underwriting securities offerings for small companies with medium-sized capital needs, mostly between $5 million and $45 million.

In that time, the brokerage firm has learned how to listen to customers from both sides of its investment banking deals—the firms and the investors. Now the company is applying that knowledge to a newly formed wealth management division called Paulson Wealth Advisors, and has appointed John Noble as managing director to lead the group. In that role, Noble will oversee Paulson Wealth Advisor’s expansion throughout the Pacific Northwest region.

Noble is part of the stream of financial advisors that have broken away from the mammoth brokerage houses lately. Although the wirehouse channel pretty much still holds the majority financial advisory assets, advisors like Noble can still build thriving practices while maintaining meaningful relationships with their clients. For his part, Noble came from Umpqua Investments, formerly Strand, Atkinson, Williams & York. Before that, he was director and executive vice president at UBS Financial Services, and he also spent more than 20 years fulfilling managerial roles at Smith Barney. 

“I became somewhat disappointed with the lack of appreciation for importance of the client,” Noble said in a telephone interview on Wednesday while describing his wirehouse experience. After the market downturn set in during late 2008, Noble said he notice a major shift in advisors’ attitudes. “I began to see a real change. Many of my colleagues and friends are re-evaluating their positions and many have concluded that being bigger is not necessarily better.”

Noble and his peers realized, importantly, that smaller firms could do as good a job of meeting clients’ wide ranging investment and money management needs, be sufficiently transparent about doing it, all while cutting out the bureaucratic holdups at larger institutions that often stifled their customer relationships. In Paulson’s case, the company plans to use the RBC Correspondent Services to clear investors’ trades and provide advisor with a well-rounded platform that will allow it to serve its wealth management clients.

Intimacy is important for the future of Paulson Wealth Advisors, to hear Noble explain it. Ideally, he said, Paulson would like to develop an advisory staff of between 20 and 35 seasoned advisors to serve the Portland office, focusing on professionals who can manage between $50 million to $70 million in client capital each. “We are recruiting experienced financial advisors who have spent their careers managing client assets, typically putting their money into separately managed accounts,” Noble said.

A smaller group like that will hopefully foster easy interaction between advisors and put clients at ease when they walk into a Paulson Wealth Advisory branch. Noble hopes to establish a presence of between 15 and 25 advisors in the Seattle-Bellevue area, too, which may eventually gain two branches.

* * *

Also on the move this week:

Allianz Global Investors has formed an academic advisory board to ensure that the Allianz Global Investors Center for Behavioral Finance remains on the cutting edge of applied theories in that field. The members of the board are: Nicholas Barberis, Yale School of Management; Kent Daniel, Graduate School of Business at Columbia University; Daniel Goldstein, London Business School and Yahoo Research; Noah J. Goldstein, UCLA Anderson School of Management; and John W. Payne, Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Anova Consulting Group, based in Brookline, Mass., hired James S. Pasman as senior consultant and Jamie Zielinski as a research analyst. Pasman was manager of client service for Kohlberg & Associates LLC, a financial services consulting firm. Zielinski was operations manager at Myvu Corp., based in Westwood, Mass., where she was involved in project management and sales administration.

Capital Guardian Wealth Management, headquartered in Belmont, N.C., hired Charles Nezuh as a managing director to oversee its newly created branch office in Winter Park, Fla.  Nezuh’s son, Keith, who was a financial advisor at Wachovia Investments, will operate a satellite office in nearby St. Cloud. Nazuh was a branch manager for Janney Montgomery Scott, and Moors & Cabot.

Fiduciary360, the Pittsburgh-based fiduciary education and training firm, appointed Duane Thompson as a policy analyst. In that role, Thompson will help coordinate Fi360’s policy role, as the firm works with legislators and regulators in Washington, D.C.  Thompson will also provide analysis and commentary on the most pressing fiduciary issues of the day. Thompson was the managing director of the Financial Planning Association’s Washington, D.C. office, and the organization’s lead lobbyist. He was with the industry group for 14 years.

Genworth Financial Wealth Management, the Pleasant Hill, Calif.-based subsidiary of Genworth Financial, hired four professionals to its marketing team to support and help advisors build and maintain successful practices. Stacy Orff-Whitfield joins as director of marketing communications; Diana Lee and Steve Hoffmeister were hired as product managers for Genworth’s web properties; and Constance Scott was hired as a senior financial writer. Orff-Whitfield was a director of field marketing for Schwab Advisor Services. Lee was product marketing manager in the investor experience group at Financial Engines. Hoffmeister was a senior product developer at Charles Schwab, responsible for all web-trading properties serving independent advisors. Scott held a number of writing roles for AXA Rosenberg Advantage, a periodical for AXA Rosenberg.