Philip Weingord and Jorge Calderon, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown's co-heads of asset-backed securities, never seem to be too far apart from each other, their adjoining offices separated merely by a glass divider. It is not much different from when they were wedged together as deskmates in a fledgling structured finance shop 10 years ago.

Such tight teamwork over the years has produced one of the most successful and least tempestuous partnerships on Wall Street. In an era when a business run by co-heads usually means one partner will ultimately walk out, the collaborative reign of Weingord and Calderon is a visible exception.

"It's a marriage of sorts," says Michael Raynes, a managing director in the asset-backed securities group who has worked for the duo for almost eight years. The two have been through so much, and can anticipate each other's thoughts so well, that they are known for routinely finishing one another's sentences.

Jumping to the top

This symbiotic relationship has paid off in regards to Deutsche's startling jump in ABS performance, which is unparalleled in the ABS market, indeed in most markets. Since moving to Deutsche from Credit Suisse First Boston last May, Weingord and Calderon have put Deutsche firmly on the ABS map. Deutsche ranked sixth in ABS at year-end 2000, up from fifteenth in 1999, and its deal volume rose by $20 billion. The two are confident that Deutsche will be the top-two or -three ranked ABS underwriter this year.

The league table jump is comparable to the quantum leaps performed by only a handful of bankers, such as CSFB's Frank Quattrone in tech banking. By 1999, CSFB jumped to third in technology equity underwriting, up from thirteenth in 1998, the year Quattrone and his team joined the firm.

Like Quattrone, Weingord and Calderon hit the ground sprinting at Deutsche because they brought essentially their entire CSFB group with them-roughly 50 bankers-demonstrating just how much loyalty the two engender. Managing director Richard d'Albert was even offered a leadership role in ABS at CSFB after Weingord and Calderon departed, but instead chose to follow them as their number-three man.

It's in part because of the patented Weingord/Calderon style: Check your egos at the reception desk and work as a team ("Yelling [at your staff] in this group is bad newsit's not acceptable," Calderon says). And the humility starts at the top as D'Albert and Raynes have better views of midtown Manhattan from their corner offices than do their bosses.

Weingord and Calderon remain content to share their power despite having had many offers to strike out on their own. For Weingord, it's simply a better deal. "I like having a partner to share in the administrative responsibilities of running a department, as it leaves more time to focus on the business," he says.

A seamless professional unit, the two have distinctly separate personalities. Calderon, 41 and a native of Colombia, lives in Manhattan with his wife and son. Weingord, 40 and a New York native, is content to be a suburban husband and dad of three daughters on Long Island. Weingord has been described as more outwardly genial, Calderon as more reserved. And they have separate spheres of influence. Weingord cut his teeth on auto loan deals while Calderon mastered the credit card side of the business, so it is rare that they overlap on deal contacts.

Some top bankers may dabble in politics or sports in their spare time, but Calderon and Weingord say that their main outside interest is family. Those working for the two describe the Deutsche group as a family in its own right. The long hours and intense teamwork has bred close friendships, and Weingord and Calderon say they meet most of their bankers' fiancees long before they marry.

An odd beginning

Given the close friendship that has developed, it's somewhat odd that the partnership came together by chance. Weingord, a computer science graduate from the State University of New York at Albany, went to CSFB in 1986 to work on the technical side of its business and was transferred in 1988 to its nascent structured finance department. Calderon, who holds engineering degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, joined CSFB's project finance group in 1990, but had to find a new role four months later when CSFB disbanded the group. He wound up parked next to Weingord.

ABS was considered a backwater at the time, a numbers-driven oddity as arcane as derivatives. "When we first started [ABS] was a specialty group focused on existing clients of the firm," Calderon says. "It existed basically as an adjunct to investment banking."

The lack of a spotlight meant few power struggles with top management. That enabled Calderon and Weingord as the two senior members of the staff eventually to become co-heads on the basis of seniority and performance. When the ABS market blossomed in the late 1990s, the Weingord/Calderon team paralleled its growth.

As the market grew and matured, it became Calderon and Weingord's job to win new issuers just entering the securitization markets, such as MBNA Inc., Capital One Financial Corp., KeyCorp. and Western Financial Inc., many of which have used Deutsche Banc as an ABS lead underwriter for the first time since the duo moved their shop.

The partnership has survived much turbulence, especially the crisis it faced last year. Calderon and Weingord had made CSFB the top-ranked ABS shop in 1999 when CFSB management decided to essentially carve up the team, breaking up origination and syndication desks, and shuffling some of its bankers into other CSFB debt businesses. The plan was to improve CSFB's overall debt presence at the possible cost of the ABS team's dominance.

Both men determined separately to call it quits and were mulling various offers. Late at night they would meet in one another's offices, talk about their dissatisfaction with the situation and mention their job negotiations. Deutsche, however, saw value in preserving the partnership, essentially giving Weingord and Calderon a blank slate on which to build an ABS business. Less than a year later, the bet appears to be paying off.

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