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Best smaller investment bank

Tom Weisel Partners

Awards for Excellence 2000

Small specialist investment banks are no longer viable, or so the argument goes. Why else would the old four horsemen of tech banking, Alex Brown, Montgomery Securities, Robertson Stephens and Hambrecht&Quist, all have sold out to bigger institutions with more products and bigger balance sheets?

The success of Thomas Weisel Partners would appear to prove this theory wrong. The bank was only set up in early spring last year, yet has already met with considerable success, in terms of backers won over, bankers recruited, and deals done.

The founder is Tom Weisel, for 20 years the CEO of Montgomery. Having sold to Nationsbank in 1997, Weisel soon realized that he might have made the wrong move; he and Nationsbank CEO Hugh McColl had very different visions for Montgomery, and the two men's relationship was always a strained one.

The merger in 1998 with Bank of America, which had bought arch-investment-banking rival Robertson Stephens, made the situation even messier. Weisel stayed until the basics of integration were completed, then left to set up a new firm, taking over 100 of the best of Montgomery with him.

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