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Washington Mutual Beefs Up Dealer Biz

WaMu Capital Corp. has hired a slew of Wall Street veterans for its office in New York as part of its move toward becoming a full-service structured finance broker-dealer.

Todd Kaufman

WaMu Capital Corp. has hired a slew of Wall Street veterans for its office in New York as part of its move toward becoming a full-service structured finance broker-dealer. The securities arm of the mortgage origination giant has lured four more MBS professionals, across banking, sales and trading. "We need more and more salespeople to do more deep dives into their accounts," explained Todd Kaufman, national sales manager. The hires include Steve Wright, a salesman from Credit Suisse First Boston, who reports to Kaufman. Also joining is Steve Katz, an Alt-A and prime whole loan trader from Deutsche Bank; Helaine Hebble, a structurer, also from CSFB; and Vincent Varca, another structurer, from UBS. All have recently started at WaMu after leaving their firms earlier this year and come shortly after WaMu added MBS pros earlier this year.

The broker-dealer was set up in recent years and is gaining steam as it moves from dealing only with WaMu-originated loans to a broader market-making role. "Our primary responsibility is to create liquidity for WaMu's products and to create an investor-direct model," Kaufman said. John Drastal, managing director and head of trading, said the firm's mandate will broaden in time. "We're still in that internal focus phase, but over the next 12-18 months we will develop more of an external focus," he said. "Our goal is to be a top 10 mortgage shop in very short period of time."

Drastal added the firm currently handles about 40% of WaMu's origination volume and, while the broker-dealer was set up to capture business that had been going to the Street, it has no intention of phasing out Street firms altogether.

The firm will also move toward packaging loans for investors that WaMu might otherwise not get involved with. "It may be something the bank does not care to purchase, which we could purchase and then securitize," Drastal added.

 

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