John Sykes' new firm looking to hire 500 advisers

Wealth management veteran Mary Kennemur says JHS Capital Advisors aims to bring in hundreds of advisers who produce at least $300K over the next five years

Dec 23, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

By Hilary Johnson

If you're a financial adviser in the Southeast who brings in at least $300,000 a year, Mary Kennemur at JHS Capital Advisors is looking for you.

Ms. Kennemur, the new head of wealth management at JHS — John Sykes's new firm which just launched this week — said in an interview Wednesday that she plans to hire 500 financial advisers over the next five years, starting first in the JHS Tampa headquarters, and then growing into the Southeast and nationally.

“We can take that population of advisers [those who bring in at least $300,000 in revenue annually], and certainly people who are more productive than that, and offer them a platform that is very competitive, and we'll value who they are and what their business stands for, and build an inclusive organization,” Ms. Kennemur said. “They'll be proud to have their name on the door with ours.”

In addition to Ms. Kennemur, JHS Capital also includes Paul Richardson, the former CEO and co-founder of Pointe Capital, who will run the retail and institutional part of the business. The new firm, announced Dec. 22, is the brainchild of John Sykes, who resigned earlier this month as chairman of struggling independent broker-dealer GunnAllen Financial Inc.

When Mr. Sykes purchased Pointe Capital last week after resigning from GunnAllen, he actually bought it a second time, since GunnAllen bought Pointe Capital in September.

Mr. Sykes first approached Ms. Kennemur about starting a new wealth management firm last summer, Ms. Kennemur said. The two did not know each other before. In 2006, Ms. Kennemur left Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. of her own accord after a 25-year career where she most recently had been in charge of the Southeast markets at Merrill, and managed more than $125 billion in assets and brought in $850 million in revenue annually.

Until the opportunity to join Mr. Sykes came up, she was working for organizations like the United Way, and for the board of the business school of the University of South Carolina, her alma mater.

“When I went down to meet John in Tampa,” Ms. Kennemur recalled, “I knew right away that he was the kind of person I wanted to work with. He's a true leader. He inspires me, he trusts me, and we're going to build something, I believe, truly unique in this space.”

Ms. Kennemur said that the wealth management side of the business will focus on delivering a mix of family-office services, everything from estate planning, insurance, and asset management, to liability management and tax advice. But unlike most family offices, there will be no minimum asset requirement. The fee structure is still being worked out, she said, but RBC will clear trades and offer an opportunity for advisors to use the Canadian bank's resources.

JHS Capital Advisors will open its doors sometime in January, Ms. Kennemur added, noting that office furniture is on its way to Tampa.

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