Mesirow Financial Holdings is an employee-owned company with nearly $380 million in equity investments and a global reach. Clients, which are located in 38 countries, include corporations, public sector entities, brokerages, investment advisors, and wealthy individuals and families. As part of its business, Mesirow Financial manages some $61.7 billion in client assets; more than half ($35.4 billion) of this is invested in currencies and commodities. The company's operations span 18 offices located in metropolitan areas nationwide, as well as in London. It was established in 1937 when Norman Mesirow purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Mesirow Financial operates its business through four main divisions: investment management, global markets, insurance services, and consulting. In addition to currencies and commodities, Mesirow Financial's investment management division provides access to US and international equities, fixed income products, private equity, and alternative investments. It also offers asset allocation strategies and retirement plan advisory services. The company's global markets group is involved in institutional brokerage, trade clearing, public finance, and investment banking. Mesirow Financial also offers insurance brokerage and consulting services, real estate advisory, business consulting, and compensation and benefits consulting services.
Revenues for the investment firm decreased some 4% in 2012 vs. 2011 following the same scenario in 2011 compared to 2010. Mesirow Financial cites persistent low interest rates for the dips in revenue but points out that it logged increased profitability due to the recovery of asset values and benefits from the disposition of certain businesses. Assets under management in 2012 also rose 16% to $61.7 billion from $53.4 billion. Mesirow Financial now boasts an 85% concentration in alternative investments. Until the recession and market volatility put a dent in the company's results in 2009, Mesirow Financial had achieved record revenues for some 15 consecutive years. The company played catch up in 2010, recording more than $500 million in revenues for the first time in its history. Gains in institutional sales and trading, private equity, and consulting helped to contribute to the total at the time.
With most of its activities concentrated in the US, Mesirow Financial is looking to grow internationally, particularly in Canada, China, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. To that end, the company operates BTG Mesirow Financial Consulting, a joint venture with UK-based Begbies Traynor Group, to build its consulting business overseas. Mesirow Financial hopes to continue to capitalize on economic turmoil, which has led clients to its consulting practice. It is expanding its litigation and investigative services, as well as its technology advisory capabilities. To cater to the human resources sector, Mesirow Financial launched FIRSTHR in 2011 through its insurance brokerage business; it also rolled out the Mesirow Financial Fiduciary Partnership Service to help retirement plan advisors mitigate investment fiduciary risk.
Mesirow Financial's some 1,200 employees collectively own about 25% of the investment firm.
Company chairman and CEO James Tyree led an investment group that purchased Sun-Times Media out of bankruptcy in 2009. While Mesirow Financial was not involved in the transaction, it's a noteworthy purchase for the executive; buying Sun-Times Media carried an approximately $5 million price tag plus the assumption of some $22 million in debt. Sun-Times Media is known for publishing the Chicago Sun-Times and nearly 60 additional newspapers and websites in the Chicago area. – less