Alex Alden made a name for himself as an investment banker advising financial technology firms. Now he's aiming to help investment and brokerage company Sterne Agee build a reputation in the same specialty.

As a newly appointed managing director in Sterne Agee's investment banking division, Alden is charged with expanding the firm's financial technology practice. He has roughly 15 years of experience leading financial technology clients through mergers and acquisitions as well as equity and debt transactions in the capital markets; most recently he was an executive director at UBS Investment Bank.

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"Technology is so critical to what financial institutions do," Alden says. "It's been transforming the way financial services are delivered to people since the late 1990s, whether that meant logging into E-Trade or using PayPal to buy something from eBay. Today, many firms are really tech companies masquerading as financial services companies¬ójust look at the payments industry."

Since joining Sterne Agee's San Francisco office in August, Alden has been busily hatching plans to staff up. "Our investment bank is growing, and the plan is to grow the financial technology practice along with it," Alden says.

"There are already several people at the company who have strong backgrounds in the field, and I'm here to take our group to an even larger scale."

Sterne Agee, based in Birmingham, Ala., has offices in 22 states and client assets of $21 billion.