Talk about helping Wall Street through the downturn.

Joseph W. Spada, senior owner and managing director of Summit Financial Resources, a Parsippany, N.J.-based financial planning and wealth management firm, advises a lot of high-level financial services executives.

Shepherding them through the last two years has not been easy, but the experience created two major benefits.  Summit Financial just named Spada its 2009 Leading Financial Advisor, and he plans to help the firm boost its team of producing advisors by about 15% this year.

The task at hand means Spada will have to continue reassuring clients that their portfolios can make it through the slow economic recovery, while telling financial planners that it is safe to consider switching firms.

During 2008 and 2009, financial planners stayed put where they were because their clients were too skittish about the turbulent markets to consider moving their accounts to another firm. Normally, Summit, which has 60 financial planners, recruits six to eight advisors a year. In 2008, it recruited six advisors, but that number dropped to four last year, according to Frank Rinaldi, an executive director of talent acquisition at Summit.

This year, Summit could add up to 10 advisors, said Steven Weinman, chairman of Summit financial Resources. Although that is a small number, it reflects growing confidence among investors and their advisors.

“People were frozen in place, and they were not making any moves,” Spada said. “Things are a lot better now. The fear and panic is gone.”

But large and small financial advisory firms are in the mood to hire. This week, Edward Jones, a St. Louis brokerage firm, announced plans to hire 1,000 advisors in the United States and Canada this year.

In such an environment, financial planners and advisors can carefully deliberate where they want to work in, said Alois Pirker, a research director at Boston-based Aite Group. More often, small firms like Summit have the infrastructure and support that advisors need to provide comprehensive advisory services to their clients.

Most market professionals used to assume that larger firms had inherent advantages over small ones, so they were the best places to work, naturally. “That is not necessarily true anymore. Small firms compete very well,” Pirker said. 

In Summit’s case, the firm has four tax attorneys and three certified public accountants on staff, and recently hired a certified financial analyst. It manages more than $3 billion in client assets. Spada leads a 10-member team that does financial planning for senior Wall Street executives, hedge and private equity fund managers, among others.

Spada said the company is looking for financial planners with eight years of experience. Most of its s new recruits will work in the Parsippany headquarters, but Summit would consider letting new hires work remotely from Westchester County, N.Y., Fairfield County, Conn., Central and Northern New Jersey or Manhattan.


Also on the move this week:

Barclays Wealth appointed Youssef Affany as a senior private banker and managing director for the Middle East and North Africa regions. He will spearhead growth in the regions from Geneva, where he will be based. Affany was a senior private banker for Citigroup Global Wealth Management.

Beacon Wealth Management, which is based in Glen Rock, N.J., hired Dr. Norman Sohn as a managing director; Tina Powell as director of communications and Julie Belardinelli as a financial planner. All three started at the firm Jan. 4. Sohn, a former physician, owned and operated Somerset Surgical Associates in New York City, which he sold last December. Powell is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University; and Belardinelli previously worked at American Express Financial Advisors [AXP] and Citibank Global Asset Management [C]. 

Black Diamond Performance Reporting in Jacksonville, Fla., hired Karen Lisowski as vice president of sales. She was a vice president of retirement plan sales and relationship management for Fidelity Investments, where she worked with registered investment advisors.

Braver Stern Securities, a New York City-based independent broker-dealer, hired George Kenny as a managing director and head of institutional fixed-income sales. Kenny will expand the firm’s institutional sales force. He was head of Americas rates sales for Bank of America Corp. [BAC]

Lazard, which is based in New York, has hired Andrew Eberhart as director of research for its wealth management group, which is a newly created position at the firm. He was managing partner of the Marshall Fund, a New York-based private equity firm. 

Denver-based Investment Management Consultants Association named Ian MacKenzie as its new deputy director of operations. He will oversee conferences, educational offerings, marketing and communications and the organization’s publications Investments Wealth Monitor and Journal of Investment Consulting. MacKenzie was a chief marketing officer and managing director of business development for the Financial Planning Association, which is also based in Denver.

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