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Boutiques: Heritage aims for mid-market

New firms target middle-market clients via strategic alliances; Private banks and family offices seen as possible rich vein

The spate of smaller start-up firms or existing boutiques that are expanding shows few signs of slowing as a steady stream of well-known bankers pop up in new roles at previously below-the-radar institutions.

When Joe Dryer resigned from Dresdner three years ago as head of capital markets origination it seems that he had grown tired of the investment banking model. He started his career in 1983 at the venerable merchant bank Hambros. He recalls how in his early days in banking he would be syndicating a bond deal for a UK corporate, arranging a loan for another client and then writing an interest rate swap. Move on 20 years and that activity would be split into discrete divisions within an investment bank as the provision of financial services became industrialized.

"That was part of the problem," says Dryer, now chief executive of Heritage Capital. Heritage is a consolidated investment banking subsidiary of Swiss-domiciled Heritage Bank. "Heritage will maintain a strict policy of finding solutions for clients rather than finding clients for Heritage’s product groups," he says.

Dryer suggests that mid-market clients have been particularly ill served by the development of investment banking into product silos, even though those possessing big balance sheets and extensive origination and distribution networks came to dominate the mid-market client base.

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