After less than a year, Denise Wypiszenski has stepped down from her job as chief operating officer at Robert W. Baird's private wealth management group.

“Denise made the decision to leave Baird to pursue other opportunities, said John Rumpf, a Baird media spokesperson, in a prepared statement. “Denise obviously has significant industry experience and has contributed to a number of our priority initiatives, including the hiring of key branch managers and financial advisors. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

In her role at Milwaukee-based Baird, Wypiszenski was responsible for supporting the firm’s 650 advisors, as well as recruiting. Before Wypiszenski went over to Baird last November, she was the chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s western division.

The announcement caught recruiter, Mindy Diamond, off guard. “It surprises me because she talked about how great it was there,” says Diamond, chief executive officer and president of Chester, New Jersey-based Diamond Consultants.

In an interview earlier this year with On Wall Street, Wypiszenski described how she rose through the ranks of the brokerage industry.  Shortly after she graduated from college in December 1991, she interviewed at Smith Barney in Omaha. She was given a test that partly involved cold calling people from the New York office who role-played as potential clients. She said she “failed miserably. They said I was too nice.” But she got a call from the branch manager who had her come back to the office interview with the 17 people on his team. As a result, she said, she was hired as a financial advisor.

Not long afterward, she ranked in the top quintile of the group of all the advisors hired in the same month across the U.S. It turned out, she said, she was a great cold caller. She built her business, with bonds and preferred stocks. Afterward, she became national training officer at Smith Barney and then held several executive positions in branch and sales management and recruiting and operations, finishing at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Her family had moved back to Chicago after assignments around the country when the company asked me to move to Los Angeles. She spent 17 years there.

In her interview with On Wall Street she said, “It's been a great experience. The people and culture were a big draw for me. Strong Midwestern values are very evident . . .It's very different than working for a publicly traded company.” She added that she joined the firm because of Baird’s chief executive officer Paul Purcell.

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