Robert C. Fisher, recent manager of Drexel Burnham Lambert's retail brokerage office in Beverly Hills, has been named a managing director at a competing investment house, making him among the first of what is expected to be a mass exodus of employees from Drexel's Beverly Hills retail office in the wake of the firm's plan to sell its retail division.
Fisher, 46, is joining the New York investment house of Wertheim Schroder & Co. to run that firm's private investors group at its new Los Angeles office, expected to open by June 1. That group will handle accounts of wealthy individuals, smaller institutions and some corporations, said Andrew L. Berger, a Wertheim managing director.
News of Fisher's departure comes two days after Drexel announced that it would sell 19 of its 43 retail offices to Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. Drexel, however, is still seeking to sell its remaining retail offices as part of a plan to concentrate on its more profitable core businesses of high-yield "junk bonds" and investment banking.
The 75-broker Beverly Hills office, said to be Drexel's largest in Southern California, was not part of the Smith Barney purchase. Also not included was Drexel's retail office in Newport Beach. That has triggered vigorous recruiting efforts at those two unsold offices for top talent who say they are angry at Drexel for abandoning them and have little reason to stay and wait for another buyer.
"Everybody's going crazy" recruiting Drexel brokers, said Richard Zander, president of Zander Associates, a Los Angeles firm specializing in recruitment of brokers. "It's like a feeding frenzy."
'Everybody' Going Somewhere
Recruiters were said to be interviewing groups of brokers at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, across the street from the Beverly Hills office. At least one recruiter is said to have interviewed brokers in the Drexel office itself, a highly unusual procedure.
"Everybody has to go somewhere," said one broker who asked not to be identified, noting that most brokers should find new jobs by the end of May. Many may go to Prudential-Bache Securities, he said.
However, the exodus doesn't appear to affect Drexel's controversial "junk bond" trading operations in Beverly Hills. Michael Milken, former head of that operation, was indicted last month for securities violations.