The competition for wealthy customers’ money is heating up on the narrow streets of Boston’s Financial District. Just ask Christopher O’Connell.
Webster Bank recently recruited him from Boston Private Bank to launch its private banking operations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. For much of O’Connell’s 14 years at Boston Private, he worked in business development, finding clients. During the last four years he also helped Boston Private integrate its private banking business into several California community banks.
O’Connell started last month as a senior vice president at Connecticut-based Webster, working out of its sole Boston office in the former Boston Stock Exchange on Franklin Street. He’s looking to hire three people for a private banking team. Webster already is wading into a competitive market in Boston, but chief executive Jim Smith has decided that rolling out private banking services such as wealth management and jumbo-loan origination here is an effective way to land new customers.
O’Connell doesn’t have a noncompete agreement with Boston Private, he said, but he does have a nonsolicit agreement: That means his old clients will have to reach out to him if they want to continue working with him.
His exit from Boston Private coincides with change there, following that company’s acquisition last year of Florida-based Banyan Partners. Boston Private used the deal as the foundation for a new wealth-management subsidiary called Boston Private Wealth, overseen by the bank’s chief executive, Mark Thompson, and former Banyan CEO Peter Raimondi. O’Connell said Boston Private Wealth recently opened an office at 100 Federal St., a stone’s throw from O’Connell’s new office. “We’re kitty-cornered to each other’s buildings,” O’Connell said. “I literally can’t walk out the door without running into someone” from Boston Private. — JON CHESTO
Chiofaro reaches out to Walsh
There were no flowers, but Mayor Marty Walsh and developer Don Chiofaro finally connected over the Harbor Garage redevelopment. Chiofaro called Walsh after a Globe column pointed out the developer went strangely silent after the city came out with a favorable recommendation for what he could build on the garage location.
After spending years getting nowhere with the late mayor Thomas M. Menino, Chiofaro got the blessing from City Hall to build as high as 600 feet. But the development could be no more than 900,000 square feet. Chiofaro wanted 1.3 million square feet of retail, office, and condos.
The call was only a few minutes long, but Walsh learned the developer was going to make the best of it. “He is looking at what would work there,” Walsh said.
Chiofaro, still choosing his words carefully in the media, issued a statement confirming the call and thanking Walsh. “The city has made it clear that it’s committed to replacing the garage with something special,” Chiofaro said. “Though we still have a lot of wood to chop, we’re hard at work exploring the possibilities for achieving this common objective.” — SHIRLEY LEUNG
Taking risks to protect others
No doubt Cambridge venture capitalist Noubar Afeyan has listened to his share of unusual pitches over the years. He’s about to hear a lot more.
The chief executive of Flagship Ventures is one of three cofounders of 100 Lives, a nonprofit intended to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, along with former Brown University president Vartan Gregorian and philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan.
They recently created the Aurora Prize, given to a person or group who put themselves at risk to protect others. The recipients get $100,000, on top of a $1 million donation to a charitable organization that inspired them.
The group began to accept nominations on Wednesday. The award will be presented by George Clooney at an event in April. — STEVEN SYRE
Jay Ash is on the move
Jay Ash has a pretty good view of Massachusetts from his digs high up in an office tower on Beacon Hill.
But he has seen much more from the windows of his Volvo S80 sedan. Since taking over as economic development secretary for Governor Charlie Baker in January, he’s logged 4,000 miles crisscrossing the state, the Volvo now closing in on the 200k mark.
It’s safe to say he’s behind the wheel more frequently now than he was during his previous job as Chelsea’s city manager.
“I knew I would be doing a lot of traveling, but I didn’t realize it would be this much traveling,” Ash said. “Having grown up in the Boston area, I’m used to being right next to everything. I have a new appreciation for people that make that commute into Boston every day from Western Massachusetts and Southeastern Massachusetts, because of the mileage and the traffic.”
Ash has adjusted his travel plans to account for the potential jams. That sometimes means he shows up at least an hour early at his destination. He’s made a habit of using that time to check out breakfast joints, including Paul’s Diner in Westford and Lou’s Diner in Clinton.
Sometimes, he takes business meetings at these places, as when he chatted with Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo over a meatball omelette at B.W.’s Grill.
Ash often shares photos and comments about the restaurants with his nearly 1,700 Twitter followers . (For the record, he recommends Savino’s in his hometown for breakfast.)
“There’s nothing like checking out the local diners [to] get a taste of what the community has to offer,” Ash said. — JON CHESTO
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