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May 12, 2017  

Fitch's Dean to Aid Kroll's Growth Effort

Kroll has hired former Fitch executive Michael Dean as head of issuer relations for its asset-backed bond rating unit.

Dean, who stepped down from his role as co-head of Fitch’s asset-backed bond rating group a year ago, arrives in his new role as a New York-based managing director on May 22. His task: to serve as the face of the Kroll team in recruiting clients and maintaining relationships with them.

Dean’s areas of focus would include winning more rating assignments in major asset classes, including deals backed by prime-quality auto loans, credit-card accounts and potentially government-guaranteed student loans. The hope is to build on a presence Kroll already maintains in less-mainstream sectors, including transactions underpinned by personal loans, subprime auto loans, whole-business cashflows and solar-power equipment receivables.

Kroll already has been seeking a larger footprint in the sector. It ranked fifth among rating agencies in terms of asset-backed bond deals graded in 2016 with a 17% market share, up from 10% in 2015 and 9% in 2014, according to Asset-Backed Alert’s ABS Database.

The agency is maintaining a 15% market share so far this year.

To this point, however, its client-recruitment efforts in the asset-backed bond market have been handled by a few junior staffers. Dean, by contrast, brings a deep list of contacts and a well-recognized name with a solid reputation.

He joined Fitch in 1991 with little experience in securitization, but quickly climbed the ranks before assuming his most recent post alongside John Bella in 2013 — leading a group that now rivals Moody’s and S&P for market-leader status. At the time of his exit, he said he would take some time off before deciding on his next move.

Separate staffers continue to handle Kroll’s issuer-relation duties in other areas of the structured-product industry, including the mortgage-bond market.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that Dean’s upper-level colleagues at Kroll include three other Fitch alumni. His immediate supervisor is chief executive Jim Nadler, who led Fitch’s structured-finance division in the 1990s. Chief operating officer Ira Powell, meanwhile, spent a few years overseeing Fitch’s asset-backed commercial paper division. And investor-relations head Kate Kennedy held a similar role within Fitch’s U.S. structured-finance division.