Schweizer to end 33-year career at Alex. Brown

Chief of private client division is calling it quits this Friday

March 05, 2002|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

Thomas Schweizer Jr., one of the last top executives remaining from before Alex. Brown's 1997 sale, said yesterday that Friday would be his last day at the company.

Schweizer has run Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown's 1,000- employee private client division, which caters to wealthy investors, since 1988. He has worked for the company for 33 years.

"He represents, in a lot of ways, the heart and soul of the old Alex. Brown," said Mayo A. Shattuck III, who resigned as chairman of Alex. Brown in September and is now president and chief executive of Constellation Energy Group Inc.

Shattuck said that when Schweizer took over in 1988, private banking "was a $70 million division losing a little bit of money." It became a $600 million operation by 2000, in terms of revenue, before the industry took a hit, he said.

David DiPietro, who heads the North American equities division, said he would succeed Schweizer in title for now. Details of a transition will be announced soon, he said.

The last year has been turbulent for all brokerages, hurt by the recession and a weak stock market.

Margaret Preston, chief operating officer for the division, said that did not throw off Schweizer, whose division lost money last year.

"He did the right thing," she said. "He sat down and took an honest clear eye to where the division needed to go to regain economic footing."

That meant cutting expenses and offering more services to customers.

A demanding boss, Schweizer made his expectations known, said George Floyd, a managing director at Alex. Brown and a broker. In exchange, one got his loyalty.

"Timmy always expected everyone to do the best they could do," said Floyd, who's known Schweizer for all 33 years at the brokerage. "He's never liked people who do not have that proper work ethic."

Floyd said Schweizer was among a group that was instrumental in saving "Alex. Brown" as part of the division name.

"That means a lot to us who are here and intend to stay here. It's part of us and our lives. And it's part of the work of Alex. Brown in Baltimore," he said.

Alex. Brown, whose roots in Baltimore date to 1800, was acquired by Bankers Trust Corp. in 1997. Deutsche Bank bought Bankers Trust in 1999 and decided recently to cease using the Alex. Brown name in favor of brand consistency.

A Marine company commander in Vietnam, Schweizer was awarded a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and a Presidential Unit Citation. He said the experience formed the basis for his work ethic.

"Someone once asked me what I learned as a Marine officer in the jungles of Vietnam. My answer was that I learned three things: take care of your troops, communicate effectively and lead by example," he wrote in a note to employees.

In addition to working at the brokerage, Schweizer served on boards at Union Memorial Hospital, Gilman School, Baltimore Museum of Art, Port Discovery and Baltimore Zoo, among others. He's also an avid tennis player.

Schweizer said he and his wife will continue to live in Baltimore, his hometown, and he'll explore other business opportunities.

He said he would have preferred to leave when economic times were better. And despite the down year, he still counts his private client division's growth as his career accomplishment.

"I'd like to leave when things are up not down, and obviously last year was a down year," Schweizer said. "But we're taking some steps and it looks like the market is going to cooperate. So, things should be OK."

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