New owner of Ferris, Baker Watts replaces chief executive and chief operating officers

October 08, 2008|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com

Ferris, Baker Watts' parent announced yesterday that it has replaced the Baltimore brokerage firm's chief executive and chief operating officers, three months after the firm was acquired.

RBC Wealth Management, a division of Royal Bank of Canada that bought Ferris for more than $230 million, said the president of its private client group took over as president and CEO of Ferris on Monday. Jim Chapman succeeds Roger Calvert, who had been CEO since 2001 and a Ferris employee for 34 years.

Deb Kermeen, who is leading Ferris integration efforts for RBC, replaces Adrian Teel as COO. The appointments are temporary, RBC said.

Soon after Ferris is fully part of RBC Wealth Management rather than a subsidiary, it will be run by the company's head of U.S. wealth management, John Taft. RBC said it expects to set a target date soon.

It has been a rocky year for Ferris, which sold itself after a stock manipulation scheme involving a former client and his broker caught the attention of federal regulators. Several Ferris executives left earlier in the year, including Louis Akers Jr., vice chairman and Calvert's predecessor.

Last month, as financial turmoil increased on Wall Street, a money-market mutual fund used by Ferris clients dipped below $1 per share - a rarity known as "breaking the buck." RBC promised as much as $35 million to cover customer losses.

Chapman said Calvert and Teel - who have already left the company - were not replaced as a result of any decisions they had made. The money-market fund, Reserve Primary Fund, isn't affiliated with Ferris and also affected other financial firms, he said.

"It was important for me, we felt at this time, to get - if you will - shoulder-to-shoulder, more intimate with Ferris, Baker Watts ... and have a quicker, hopefully more seamless integration for our clients," Chapman said. "It's all about the client. We want this to be a terrific experience for our clients."

Chapman said RBC is still "evaluating" jobs at the 680-employee Ferris but expects more layoffs. Ferris employed 840 before it was acquired in mid-June.

The integration work, he said, is going well. "I'm very satisfied with where we are today," he said. "The teamwork's been terrific."

Calvert could not be reached to comment. In April, after Ferris announced it was selling itself, the company estimated he would get $4.5 million in RBC shares and a change-of-control payment of about $2.5 million from the deal.

Calvert was a director for six years on the board of the Greater Baltimore Committee, the regional business and civic group. Donald C. Fry, GBC's president, said Calvert demonstrated thoughtful and deliberate leadership during his time on the board, which ended in May. Calvert served on the judging committee for the group's annual biosciences award, demonstrating that he wasn't afraid to go outside his area of expertise to help the organization, Fry noted.

"He's been a strong leader for our community and also one that I think has developed a lot of credibility over the years," Fry said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Hanah Cho contributed to this article.

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