1. Archive

Rudy Fernandez

NEW POSITION: Branch manager and vice president-investments, Robert W. Baird & Co., Tampa.

PREVIOUS POSITION: Vice president-investments, Robert W. Baird & Co., Tampa.

As a member of the Tampa City Council for eight years, Rudy Fernandez found himself with two full-time jobs: providing financial counseling for corporate and private clients and fulfilling his duties as chair of the city council's Finance Committee.

Now that he's out of politics _ at least for the time being, he said _ he is focusing on financial consultations and since Jan. 1 has had the added responsibilities of managing about 30 people at the Tampa office of Robert W. Baird & Co., an international wealth management, investment banking, asset management and private equity company.

"Basically, as branch manager, I conduct the same financial consulting for individual clients and corporations that I've been doing for the last 18 years," he said. "In addition to that, I'm responsible for the operation of the entire office."

The Tampa office is one of approximately 80 Baird offices in 16 states, Fernandez said. Baird is part of the Northwestern Mutual family of companies. Its European operation, Granville Baird Ltd., has six locations, including offices in London; Paris; Hamburg, Germany; and Barcelona, Spain.

Fernandez grew up in Tampa and attended Jesuit High School, where he was student body president. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in accounting. He went to work for Price Waterhouse, then started in the brokerage industry. He has been a licensed broker since 1983.

While a member of the Tampa City Council from 1991 to 1999, he worked for Raymond James Financial Services, operating a satellite office on Davis Islands. Fernandez was hired by Baird in September 2000, shortly after he left the council.

Fernandez said being on the city council "consumed a good deal of time" and that the transition from politics to full-time investment consulting "has been a very positive move for me and my family as well."

"I miss people at City Hall, and I miss many of the constituents that I had interaction with," Fernandez said. "But I'm thrilled to have more time with my family."

Fernandez, 41, recently moved with his wife and two children into a new home on Davis Islands.

He teaches about the brokerage industry as an adjunct instructor at Hillsborough Community College. He also is secretary of the Davis Islands Civic Association.

Fernandez said he has long been attracted to the "transactional nature and the financial aspect of Wall Street."

"I enjoy working with clients and helping them to achieve their financial goals," he said. "I like the one-on-one consulting with clients."

Growing up in Tampa and being fluent in Spanish has been an asset to Fernandez's financial consulting, he said. It has "been very helpful in dealing with clients who are more comfortable with someone who speaks Spanish."

Does he have further political aspirations?

"We'll see," Fernandez said. "Before I had kids, politics made sense. With small children and a full-time position managing a branch of this magnitude, public office is not in the cards in the immediate future."

_ FRED W. WRIGHT Jr., Times correspondent