RIA Rising

A Big Name for BNY Mellon's Chicago Office

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After acquiring most of the business of Talon Asset Management in Chicago last summer, BNY Mellon is raising its profile in the Windy City by hiring someone for their wealth management business whose name is a household word in Illinois.

Alexi Giannoulias, the former state treasurer who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat in 2010 for President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat, has joined BNY Mellon as senior advisor for strategic relationships, a business development role. Giannoulias, who’s 35, is the first of six top staffers that BNY Mellon plans to add to Chicago this year in business development, portfolio management, and private banking. All will answer directly to Michael DiMedio, president of the Chicago region.

Michael DiMedio

DiMedio (left) told Registered Rep. that Giannoulias has “a unique combination of skills, background, experience, and ability to do the job. In part we are very much looking to grow our presence in Chicago. A big piece of that is being able to tell our story to as many people as possible. We really think Alexi can help us do that in the wealth management business.”

Giannoulias also will lend his expertise in public finance to BNY Mellon teams around the country that are focused on state, local, and federal government entities, DiMedio said. But his primary role, DiMedio stressed, would be to help drive business in Chicago and the MidWest.

Big things have been expected of Giannoulias before. Crain’s Chicago Business named him to its “40 under 40” list in 2007, the same year he took over as state treasurer. He served in that role until last year, managing a $14 billion portfolio. The resume isn’t pristine, however; he previously worked at his family-controlled Broadway Bank in Chicago, whose failure in 2010 was regarded as having hurt his bid for the Senate.

BNY Mellon spokeswoman Susan Rivers dismissed the bank failure as “old history.” And DiMedio didn’t see his lack of wealth management experience specific to the financial advisory industry as “much of an issue at all.

“Alexi is a very smart and hardworking young man, he’s got a terrific educational background, and we think he’s going to be able to get up to speed on the wealth management business, on the concepts that we work with clients about, and be an effective business development officer,” he said.

Charles Roame, managing partner at ­Tiburon Strategic Advisors­ in Tiburon, Calif., agreed that Giannoulias is young, but he also possesses “a world of experience” as Illinois treasurer and was raised in a bank family. “My read here though is that they are buying his contacts,” Roame said in an e-mail. Giannoulias’ Senate candidacy did not play a role in his recruitment, “but it makes his name recognizable which sure helps in marketing,” Roame added.

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