SAN FRANCISCO - Gary R. Craft, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown's prolific e-finance analyst, has left the investment bank after less than a year to revive his own investment research firm.
FinancialDNA.com will produce reports similar to those Mr. Craft wrote during his eight months as a managing director in the San Francisco office of Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, the U.S. investment banking unit of Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank AG.
Mr. Craft attracted a fair amount of controversy there. His research publications, including E-Finance Weekly and the theme-based series "Breaking Up the Financial Intermediary," triggered his departure from Deutsche Bank last month, he said.
He said he viewed his job there not as a stock picker but as a strategist on the converging financial services sector in general and emerging companies such as E-Loan Inc. and S1 Corp. in particular.
Mr. Craft, who was earlier a Robertson Stephens Inc. analyst and a research director at E-Offering, said Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown pressured him to expand the number of publicly traded companies he covered and to focus less on broad trends.
Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown representatives did not return calls seeking comment for this article. It certainly would not be the first time a research analyst was called on the carpet by an employer for being too independent or negative.
Thomas Brown, now president of Second Curve Capital in New York, claims to have been booted as Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette's star banking analyst two years ago because his superiors thought his negative stance on some large banking deals would choke off deals. Sean Ryan, now at Banc of America Securities, left Bear, Stearns & Co. last year after being silenced for his negative take on First Union Corp., a Bear Stearns client.
"At investment banks everyone is held to the revenue-generating issue," said Rich Repetto, head of e-finance research at Putnam Lovell Securities Inc.
"Investment banks have made huge investments in their trading operations, and they need research to generate revenues for trading," Mr. Craft said in an interview from his San Francisco home.
E-Finance Reporter, one of Mr. Craft's research reports, gives some idea of the wide net the 42-year old analyst had been casting at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. The 26-page report was an attempt to publish theme-based analysis on financial services after the investment bank canceled a similar publication, E-Finance Weekly, he said.
In the first and only issue of E-Finance Reporter, dated Oct. 1, Mr. Craft took on the reason liquidity exchanges sometimes run into trouble; the importance of retail investors to the IPO underwriting process; and commercial insurance exchanges.
FinancialDNA.com is Mr. Craft's solution to what he sees as the inherent conflict between research and the role it plays at an investment bank.
Mr. Craft actually started the venture last year, after he left his job at E-Offering, an online investment bank formed in 1999. FinancialDNA.com was dormant during Mr. Craft's eight months at Deutsche Bank.
The site, which will offer some products for free and reports for a subscription fee, is designed to break even. The real money will come from other activities, particularly a $50 million to $100 million private equity fund that Mr. Craft is planning with two San Francisco partners. The fund, which will invest in e-finance companies, will target financial institutions as investors. Mr. Craft said he expects to begin raising money for the fund within a month.