Cowen Inc. (NASDAQ:COWN) has undergone a key executive move with the appointment of Michael Fitzgerald to help lure hedge funds and similar clients to the company’s prime-brokerage business.
Mr. Fitzgerald had served at Cantor Fitzgerald for nearly 16 months, heading up its equity prime services origination business in New York. Prior to this, he spent the majority of his career at Morgan Stanley, where he stayed for more than 12 years as head of US prime brokerage sales. Fitzgerald jumped to J.P. Morgan in 2012 and spent there nearly four years as head of NY/Boston prime brokerage sales.
Following this lengthy career with the US investment banks, Fitzgerald held the CEO role at DACC (Digital Asset Custody Company), a crypto custodian for hedge funds and other institutional clients.
Cowen Inc. provides alternative investment management, investment banking, research, and sales, and trading services through its broker-dealer business and alternative investment management unit. The company expects Fitzgerald’s 23 years of experience, insights, and industry relationships to help scale its global prime brokerage business.
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Cowen’s BP unit, which serves a client segment that includes hedge funds and family offices and other buy-side institutions, has been an interesting business to watch over the last few years as it was either growing or contracting, depending on their clients’ appetite for risk.
The increase in banking regulation, which mandates increased minimum levels of capital and increases in reporting expenses, has resulted in a lot of banks leaving the prime broking space. The exit of legacy players in the prime brokerage space has indeed allowed new offerings to rapidly gain customers and fill the void.
“As we continue to expand our global Prime Brokerage platform, our highest priority is to seek out talented individuals with a shared vision of, and commitment to, client service that will complement our existing team. We look forward to working with Mike and leveraging his experience and the breadth of his relationships in this marketplace,” said Jack Seibald, Cowen’s Managing Director.
Commenting on his new role, Mr. Fitzgerald said, “This is an opportune time to expand in the prime brokerage space, and I’m excited to join a firm with the resources and commitment to prime brokerage that Cowen has exhibited. I look forward to working with my new colleagues to build an even larger franchise with differentiated services that deliver outperformance.”