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Banking On His Success

Banking On His SuccessTo help shape and secure its future, the country's oldest and largest private bank has named a Tufts graduate to its top post. New York City.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.31.02] This bank was built to last. With over 180 years of history steeped in tradition and success, Brown Brothers Harriman and Company has weathered good and bad economic times, growing into the country's oldest and largest private bank. And beginning Friday, the bank's future -- as well as it's $3 billion in assets -- will be in the hands of Tufts graduate Michael McConnell.

"Mr. McConnell, whose appointment [as managing partner -- akin to chief executive] is effective immediately, will succeed Anthony T. Enders," the New York Times reported on Thursday.

Enders told the Times that McConnell brings a great deal of experience to the table.

"He knows how we work very well," Enders told the newspaper. "He knows all the innards and out-ards that we have."

That's not surprising, considering McConnell's career at Brown Brothers began over three decades ago.

"McConnell, 59, joined the bank in 1968 as a management trainee, his first job after Army service," reported the Times. He became a partner in 1984 and most recently served as the bank's chief financial officer.

That experience will likely play a critical role as Brown Brothers plans for the future.

According to the Times, the bank -- like the rest of the financial services industry -- has felt the impact of the slowing economy.

"We are importantly impacted by the slide in equities," McConnell told the Times. "Investor services, including foreign exchange, softened. The whole drumbeat of mutual fund investing slowed down, and the investment management business slowed down. We are obviously not happy about it."

The Tufts graduate will have little time to waste as he assumes the top post at Brown Brothers Harriman.

"Late next year, the firm will decamp from its main office at 59 Wall Street and move into 20 floors at 140 Broadway," reported the Times. "Brown Brothers, which was founded in 1818, has done business on its current site since 1841."

Though the move will involve a break from some of the bank's long history, McConnell says the company's past won't soon be lost.

"You want to be respectful of history, but that is not where things are happening these days," he said. "We will try and take some of the character of this place with us. I suspect there will be a roll-top desk or two [in the bank's new offices]."

Images courtesy of Brown Brothers Harriman

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