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Oppenheimer Orchestrates Management Shift in Los Angeles

Richard Wisely, who has managed Oppenheimer & Co.’s shifting fortunes as manager of its Los Angeles-area office under several ownership structures, has stepped aside, a spokeswoman said.

Wisely, who has been with Oppenheimer & Co. and predecessor companies since 1984, is handing the reins of the New York-based firm’s approximately 50-broker office in Westwood office to Kevin F. Friedman, who joined as a producing manager from running Wells Fargo Advisors’ Woodland Hills branch.

Wisely, who began his career at Prudential-Bache Securities predecessor Bache & Co. in 1972 before joining then-Oppenheimer parent CIBC World Markets in 1984, will remain with the New York-based firm as its regional manager for Arizona and southern California, the spokeswoman said. She could not immediately say how many branches or brokers are in the region, but Oppenheimer has about 90 U.S. branches.

The veteran broker was prominently mentioned in a long-running “raiding” arbitration case that Oppenheimer pressed against Citigroup in 2003, when the bank’s Smith Barney unit recruited nine brokers allegedly representing about 30% of production from Wisely’s office. The actions occurred as Oppenheimer was trying to reassure brokers concerned about the firm’s pending sale by parent Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to the small Canadian firm Fahnestock Viner Holdings.

The arbitration, decided in Citigroup’s favor in 2011 at a cost of $100,000 to Oppenheimer, mentioned that Wisely himself came close to jumping with a group of brokers to Bank of America. Fahnestock, under the control of Albert Lowenthal, still chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer, offered Wisely “a generous retention package and bonus” but rejected his advice to up its package to other brokers to 75-100% of trailing 12-month production from 35-40% and to retain an attractive deferred compensation plan.

Friedman, Wisely’s successor at the branch, joined Oppenheimer two weeks ago with at least one client associate after an 18-year career with Wells Fargo Advisors and its predecessor firm Wachovia Securities. Neither he nor Wisely returned calls for comment.

Wells’ Woodland Hills office that Friedman managed is currently being overseen by Steven Townsend, the branch’s market manager, according to a person taking calls at the office.

Wisely’s BrokerCheck history over his 40-year career is unmarked by a customer or regulatory complaint, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority database.  He gained notoriety in 2005, however, when he was permitted to cash out investments in a poorly performing hedge fund that had trapped some wealthy Oppenheimer clients, according to  this Wall Street Journal article.

Friedman was named a top branch manager in 2015 by “On Wall Street” magazine for his coordination of 50 brokers in the Woodland Hills branch. He has one mark over his 21-year career, a customer complaint lodged in June alleging that he failed to supervise a broker in connection with an unspecified complaint. The issue is pending, according to his BrokerCheck record.

Prior to joining Wells, Friedman was registered for three years with Merrill Lynch in New York City.

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