After three decades at M.L. Stern and Southwest Securities, Neil Hattem split to join Stifel Nicolaus as vice president/investments in the firm's Los Angeles office. There, Hattem looks to expand his muni bond-based advisory business and develop his succession plan for his eventual retirement.

"Neil is a great addition to our private client group in Los Angeles," said Mark Tobin, branch manager. "His fixed income expertise and overall investment acumen will help provide outstanding advice and guidance to our clients during these challenging times in the financial markets."

Specializing in muni bonds, Neil Hattem managed over $250 million in assets and said that he had been in contact with Stifel's CEO, Ron Kruszewski, for more than two years before making the switch. It was Stifel's 2011 acquisition of Stone & Youngberg, which he calls "one of the largest underwriters" with the "best research when it comes to California Munis," that caused him to finally make the move.

"I was offered all sorts of positions - Wells [Fargo] and all these guys - but none of them really had the capacity to make the markets and be able to do the research, so once Stifel picked these guys up, I had the infrastructure and all that I needed," Neil Hattem said over the phone from Los Angeles.

Licensed in March of '79, Neil Hattem has over 33 years of experience and considered this move strategic in terms of succession planning as his son, Aaron Hattem, will also be joining him as his registered client service associate and junior partner.

"Guys like me [with] 30 to 40 years in the business, we're on those succession plans. There's no real formula for passing on a business, so this is something ten to 15 years down the road I can have my son sort of take over."

Neil Hattem hopes to combine his experience and knowledge of Muni markets with his son's familiarity with equity markets.

"I'm just a 60-year-old bond guy, and I know equities pretty well, but that's not the bulk of my business. So that was my other plan. My son has his own business, but [I want to] get him more involved, so he really understands the equity side, and it'll complement what I do on the bond side."

The expectation is that when Neil Hattem retires, his clients, many of whom he has managed for over 30 years at Southwest and who will follow him to Stifel, will be comfortable transitioning their accounts to his son.

"Clients get to deal with both of us for another 10 years or 15 years and by that time they're going to be pretty comfortable with him. That's sort of my long term plan as opposed to working till you drop," Neil Hattem said.