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Executive Moves

Nomura Draws In Barclays, Credit Suisse Dealmakers

Nomura Securities Inc. has vastly built out its North American investment banking operation, expanding it from 14 six months ago to a formidable 44, according to an internal June 14 memo issued by Glenn Schiffman, chief of the investment banking unit.

Among those new specialists announced in the memo are James Merli (ex-Barclays); Gregg Fatzinger (Credit Suisse) and Douglas Decker (Wells Fargo).

The bank has also hired Michael Symonds and Roy Kabla from Barclays.

"These hires signify our commitment to deepening out targeted industry verticals and enhancing out product groups with the goal of seamlessly executing our client-focused, solutions-driven strategy," Schiffman's memo said.

SEC Steps Up Muni Team, With a Sharp Eye on BABs

The Securities and Exchange Commission is stepping up its enforcement efforts in the municipal securities market for the first time in more than a decade, with a staff of roughly 30 attorneys charged with investigating and trying muni and public pension fund cases.

The first of the enforcement actions may become public by as early as this summer, Elaine Greenberg, associate regional director of the SEC's Philadelphia office, told The Bond Buyer. Greenberg will be heading up the unit with deputy Mark Zehner.

"There's recognition that investors in this particular market need the protection of the SEC," she said.

As the new unit moves forward, equipped with more resources than predecessors, its roughly 30 attorneys began meeting in Philly last week for an intensive boot camp on tax, accounting and other issues unique to the municipal market and public pensions.

"The point of this is to create a group of experienced lawyers who can quickly and efficiently zoom in on the important stuff and not get lost with various red herrings," Zehner said. "We don't want attorneys spinning their wheels wasting time being inefficient because they're learning something for the first time."

The enforcement unit also plans to hire two outside individuals who have muni banking or trading experience, Greenberg said.

The five areas for potential municipal fraud that the SEC will focus on are:

* Offerings and disclosure

* Taxes and arbitrage

* Pay-to-play practices and public corruption

* Valuation and pricing, including public pension accounting

* Disclosure violations

Zehner said that his optimistic side would like to believe there are too few abuses in the muni market to warrant this kind of focus. "There's another part of me that's perhaps a little bit more cynical, more experienced, that says, 'No, I think there's going to be more than enough work there for the 30,' " he added. Industry insiders say the next focus is Build America Bonds.

RIAs Head Off to Schwab Summer School

Charles Schwab has opened the virtual doors of Schwab Advisor University (SAU), an interactive training program for registered investment advisors.

The classes are designed to train RIAs on how to better utilize Schwab's online tools and resources.

Schwab said its internal research indicated that 67% of advisers surveyed would find it useful to receive training on its technology tools. SAU is aimed at saving time and reducing costs.

The online SAU curriculum includes classes on: client account opening, online cashiering, transfer of assets, monitoring client transaction status, investment research; as well as fixed income, equity and back-office trading via the web.

Cynde Lee, CCO and operations director at Sand Hill Advisors, said: "The training helps me tremendously. I don't have to make time myself or take someone away. It's invaluable."