After less than a year, Denise Wypiszenski has stepped down from her job as chief operating officer at Robert W. Baird's private wealth management group.

In her role at the Milwaukee company, Wypiszenski was in charge of supporting its 650 advisers, as well as recruiting.

Before joining Baird in November of last year, Wypiszenski was the COO of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney's Western division.

Her stepping down caught the head of a recruiting company off guard.

"It surprises me because she talked about how great it was there," said Mindy Diamond, chief executive officer and president of Diamond Consultants in Chester, N.J.

John Rumpf, a spokesman at Baird, said in a prepared statement on Aug. 25 that Wypiszenski "made the decision to leave Baird to pursue other opportunities."

He added: "Denise obviously has significant industry experience and has contributed to a number of our priority initiatives, including the hiring of key branch managers and financial advisers. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors."

In an interview earlier this year with On Wall Street, Wypiszenski described how she rose through the ranks of the brokerage industry. Shortly after graduating from college in December 1991, Wypiszenski interviewed at Smith Barney in Omaha. She was given a test that partly involved cold calling people from the New York office who role-played as potential clients. Wypiszenski said she "failed miserably. They said I was too nice."

But she got a call from the branch manager, who had her come back to the office and interview with the 17 people on his team. As a result, Wypiszenski said, she was brought on as a financial adviser.

Not long afterward, Wypiszenski ranked in the top quintile of the group of all the advisers hired in the same month across the United States.

It turned out, she said, she was a great cold caller.

Wypiszenski built her business with bonds and preferred stocks.

Then she became national training officer at Smith Barney, and after that held several executive positions in branch and sales management and recruiting and operations, finishing at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

Wypiszenski said that her stint at Baird was "a great experience."

"The people and culture were a big draw for me," she said. "Strong Midwestern values are very evident. … It's very different than working for a publicly traded company."

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