In 2014, Dennis ChenFu moved from Jersey City, New Jersey, where he headed trading sales for Pershing Prime Services, to Los Angeles to spearhead the prime brokerage’s efforts on the West Coast. While many of the bulge-bracket banks have retrenched from the prime brokerage business, Pershing, with the backing of parent Bank of New York Mellon Corp., has seen an opportunity to expand.
ChenFu’s new Pershing territory extends from LA to Seattle. With the hedge fund industry under pressure, the San Francisco Bay Area has been a rare bright spot and hub of activity for new and experienced managers looking for investment opportunities and ideas in Silicon Valley. BNY Mellon launched its fourth innovation center, a research and development facility for new financial services technology, in Palo Alto, California, in 2014.
Born in Chengdu in southwestern China, ChenFu came to the U.S. at age ten, settling with his mother and brother in Tennessee. His mother studied accounting at the University of Tennessee before the family moved north to New Jersey during his freshman year of high school. ChenFu, 45, attended Rutgers University in that state, graduating with a BA in economics in 1994.
His first job out of college was with Pershing in its then-fledgling prime brokerage group, where he helped to bring new hedge fund firms on board. Four years later he joined investment bank Bear Stearns Cos., which at the time was one of the most highly regarded providers of prime services, as associate director of prime brokerage business consulting. In 2006, ChenFu was recruited by Fidelity Investments, then a newcomer to the field, to lead its New York prime services sales team. He spent the crisis years of 2008–’09 at Bank of America Merrill Lynch helping hedge funds to take their international prime brokerage exposure stateside. Once some of the dust settled and it looked like stability and opportunity was returning to ChenFu’s business, some ex–Bear Stearns colleagues called him back to Pershing in 2010.
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Charles Dufresne Jr.