Sometimes it takes a new face to reinvent an old firm. When Kelley Downing was named president and CEO in 2007 of 115-year-old Bartlett & Co. in Cincinnati, the firm had been owned by Baltimore asset management giant Legg Mason for more than a decade - but the arrangement had lost its original appeal. Bartlett began looking for a way out.

Legg Mason had bought Bartlett back in 1996, hoping the firm would bring in new clients, while Bartlett would get back-office brokerage support from the larger organization. But in 2005, when Legg Mason sold its brokerage business to Smith Barney, many of the synergies for Bartlett evaporated.

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