Barclays Wealth Taps Merrill's General Counsel, Other Execs

Donald Gershuny joins from BofA-Merrill Lynch, while Peter Reynolds comes to the firm from RBS Americas and Caroline Simko from Alliance Bernstein.

Barclays Wealth hired three executives from rival firms Thursday as part of its expansion strategy in the Americas.

Donald Gershuny, formerly Bank of America-Merrill Lynch general counsel for global wealth management, joined Barclays Wealth as general counsel for the Americas; Peter Reynolds joined as chief risk officer for the region after giving up his post as head of regulatory risk and compliance for RBS Americas; and Caroline Simko, previously with AllianceBernstein, was hired as head of global research & investments marketing.

All three were also named managing directors.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome senior legal and risk professionals of Don and Peter's caliber and experience," said Mitch Cox, head of Barclays Wealth in the Americas and head of research and investments for the firm globally, in a press release about the hiring of Gershuny and Reynolds.

In a separate statement regarding Simko's new role, Cox said, "Having a marketing professional of Caroline's expertise and thoughtfulness drive our communication and delivery of research and products will be a great business asset."

Cox joined Barclays Wealth in October 2009 after 12 years with Merrill Lynch, where he most recently led Merrill's global investment solutions group after previously running its global private client market investment and origination division and its structured products origination and sales operations.

Gershuny joins Barclays Wealth after spending 34 years at Merrill, where he most recently was responsible for all legal, regulatory and compliance services for wealth management.

"It makes sense that Mitch Cox is bringing over more professionals from Merrill Lynch, given his position within the firm before he left," said Mark Elzweig, an executive search consultant. "Plus, Barclays Wealth is a well-capitalized firm with an unsullied name, and there's a dearth of such boutique firms in the business."

For his part, Reynolds spent the last three years as for RBS Americas and prior to that worked at Citigroup for a decade. And Simko was head of marketing for Bernstein Global Wealth Management over the past eight years.

At Barclays, Simko will be responsible for leveraging the firm's intellectual capital and its tailored global product offering in support of client service, business development and strategy, the firm says.

"Barclays Wealth has one of the finest research teams dedicated solely to high net worth clients, run by three individuals with over 75 years of experience as economists and investment strategists," said Cox, in a statement.

On Monday, Barclays Wealth appointed David Lewis as managing director and head of banking for the Americas. Lewis was previously head of banking products for the Americas at UBS.

Barclays Wealth, which is focusing on clients with $10 million or more in investible assets, has about 250 financial advisors (or investment representatives) in the Americas.

This is about the same size of the private wealth-management groups at the wirehouse firms, Elzweig says.

"It's logical for Barclays Wealth to target wirehouse advisors," the executive-search consultant explained. "And its brand as a boutique firm is a sharp differentiator. Advisors with Barclays Wealth don't have to share resources with thousands of other FAs."

Earlier this year, Barclays Wealth said it planned to invest about a $1 billion globally to "transform itself from a top 10 wealth manager to a top tier wealth manager."

Other hires in 2010 include: Anthony Valvo, head of custom credit, who joined from Citigroup in January; Linda Eydt, Atlanta regional manager, who joined from UBS in January; Chris Williams, Chicago regional manager, who joined from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch earlier this month; Steve Head, Texas regional manager, who joined from Carlson Capital last week; and the advisor team of , who joined the firm's Atlanta office from Morgan Stanley in June.

Barclays acquired Lehman Brothers' private investment management business in September 2008 and has been using the acquired group as a foundation for building this business in United States and Latin America.

Following the December 2009 merger of BlackRock and Barclays Global lnvestors, including Barclay's market-leading iShares ETF business, Barclays has maintained a 19.9% stake in the combined firm.

Barclays Wealth, part of Barclays Bank, has 14 offices in the Americas, where it operates via Barclays Capital.

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