For DC analysts, MF Global demise is round two of bad luck

NEW YORK Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:34pm EST

NEW YORK Nov 10 (Reuters) - It's never fun to work for a collapsing firm, but for one group of analysts at MF Global, the broker-dealer's demise last week carried an extra sting.

The Washington Research Group, a Washington-based office of 17 well-known government policy analysts headed by Edward Garlich Jr., was bought by MF Global a year ago.

The deal was a chance for the group to break free of its previous owner, the Stanford Financial Group, which dissolved in 2009 when founder Allen Stanford was charged with fraud.

The future is uncertain for the Washington analysts now. Reached on her mobile phone, Anne Mathias, director of research at the group, said she could not comment on the condition of the group or whether its members were still going in to work every day.

Asked if she could respond to a question in the normal realm of policy issues, she replied, "I'm not sure."

At least two analysts' emails are set to an automatic, out-of-office response that directs all communications to their personal addresses. Phones ring unanswered at the office.

The group's next task, says policy analyst Dan Ripp, president of the research firm Bradley Woods & Co., is to find another home.

"They're a top quality group and it's really just bad luck to be associated with firms over the past few years and those relationships haven't worked out," Ripp said.

He said the group would likely benefit from connecting to another Wall Street shop.

"You can't get away from Wall Street entirely because that's what the business model is based on," Ripp said. "It's very helpful to be affiliated with a broker-dealer entity because that facilitates payments. It's much harder for a research team to get traction if you're independent, which is why research guys like to hook up with a broker-dealer."

Ripp added that finding another buyer would not be an insurmountable task.

"We're living in a world where the demand for public policy research is as strong as it's ever been," he said. "Their prospects are terrific."