Many in the financial industry were shocked to learn of the sudden death on September 4 of Frank Fernandez, at 53, of complications following heart surgery. Fernandez was well known within the investment community as the chief economist and director of research for the Securities Industry Association (SIA), where he ran the research operation from 1999 until earlier this year, when SIA became the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) after merging with the Bond Market Association.

“Frank was a warm, brilliant and valued colleague and friend, and he will be sincerely missed by all of us who had the pleasure to know him,” says Marc Lackritz, president and CEO of SIFMA, in an e-mail sent to SIFMA staff on Wednesday.

After undergraduate and graduate studies at Georgetown, and the Center for Latin American Monetary Studies, Fernandez was an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He was chief international economist at Manufacturers Hanover Trust, and then a Merrill Lynch managing director, director of fixed-income research, and strategist for equity markets and emerging market debt. He ran his own investment advisor and broker/dealer, GEM Advisors, in New York, before joining the SIA, according to his biography on the Web site of the Carnegie Council, an international policy ethics organization.

According to a SIFMA spokesman, Fernandez had mentioned to former colleagues there that he was to start on September 9th as chief economist for National Bank of Kuwait. The press office at National Bank of Kuwait did not answer a telephone call Friday for verification.

Fernandez lived in New York, and is survived by his wife, Tina, and two children.