Brian Belski, until last week the chief equity strategist at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York, is said to be heading to Bank of Montreal.

Belski, 45, who started out at the former Dain Rauscher as a technical strategist after graduating in business from St. Cloud State University, has been one of the best-performing market strategists in the land since he called the turnaround in the dark days of early 2009.

Belski forecast last year that the Standard & Poor's 500 index would rise to 1,325. He was shy by 5 percent, but his estimate was closer to the year-end close than the 11 strategists tracked by Bloomberg since December 2010. And the market has since topped 1,360, close to a near doubling of the bear market low on March 9, 2009.

Belski, who commutes between New York and his family in the Twin Cities, was tight-lipped last week about his next move. However, clients say he's heading to the big Canadian financial company, which has outperformed the big U.S. banks that are still recovering from the U.S. mortgage-securities debacle. Members of Belski's investment crew are said to be setting up shop at Bank of Montreal.

Belski, who also was a market strategist at Piper Jaffray and Merrill Lynch, would only say: "It was a great three years [at Oppenheimer] and we had an opportunity to prove to ourselves and investors that the experience we obtained at Piper and Merrill Lynch helped us navigate one of the most turbulent market periods in history .... I'm grateful for the opportunity and look forward to the next one."

Toronto-based Bank of Montreal has operations in Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago through the former M&I Bank and Harris Bank.

Wisconsin farm kid makes hay at WFC

Dean Junkans, a Wisconsin farm boy who joined Norwest Bank nearly 20 years ago, has been named chief investment officer of two of the company's continent-spanning wealth-management businesses.

"I used to go to the local bank with my dad, a dairy farmer, and listen to him talk about our farm business," recalled Junkans, 52. "I was interested in that."

Junkans, an economics graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, started out in the treasury department at the old Farm Credit Services in St. Paul.

David Carroll, head of California-based Wells Fargo's $1.3 trillion-asset wealth, brokerage and retirement services, said Junkans will become chief investment officer of Wells Fargo Advisors, the retail brokerage business that is one of the largest in the land. He also retains that job at Wells Fargo Private Bank for affluent clients.

Junkans said he will help bring a "consistent experience" across the several Wells Fargo wealth management businesses. Wells Fargo has been consolidating investment businesses, in the wake of its 2009 acquisition of North Carolina-based Wachovia Corp. Junkans will work with Jim Paulsen, who is chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, the institutional investment business.

Eckerline is No. 1

Peter Eckerline, a repeat winner, was named the No. 1 financial adviser in Minnesota, according to the annual survey by Barron's magazine. Eckerline, 50, who works out of Merrill Lynch's Wayzata office, manages hundreds of millions for clients who have a typical net worth of $7 million, according to the annual survey of America's high-end brokerage professionals.

Others among the top advisers in Minnesota include Brad Wheelock of RBC Wealth Management in St. Cloud, Richard Brown of JNBA Financial Advisors, Christina Boyd of Merrill in Wayzata, Rob Nelson of Ameriprise Financial in Edina and Louis Close of UBS Financial in Minneapolis.

As the stock market and economy have heated up, the premium to lure the biggest brokers is on the rise locally.

Merrill, UBS and Morgan Stanley are paying up to 175 percent of trailing 12-month production. In other words, a big producer who is grossing $1 million annually in commissions and fees could get a bonus of up to $1.75 million for bringing the business across the street, under certain conditions.


Poet-DSM Advanced Biofuels, a joint venture between Royal DSM of Holland and Poet of South Dakota, breaks ground on March 13 in Emmetsburg, Iowa, on a next-generation fuel plant designed to make ethanol from corn cobs, leaves and other crop residue. The idea is to make "cellulosic bio-ethanol" competitive with corn ethanol. If this commercial-scale plant works, Poet plans to build such operations adjacent to several of its several Minnesota ethanol plants.

Poet, one of the world's largest ethanol producers, operates a pilot plant at Emmetsburg. Twenty-five-year-old Poet produces 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol and 9 billion pounds of high-protein animal feed annually from its network of 27 U.S. production facilities. Royal DSM, with revenue of about $9 billion, is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. More information:

Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, a Democrat, is among a couple of dozen in Congress who have written the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to begin drafting rules requiring companies to report CEO-to-median worker pay ratios, as required by the Dodd-Frank financial reform and consumer protection act. The gap has widened markedly over the past 30 years, according to academic studies.

"A company's treatment of their average workers is not just a reflection of their corporate value system, but is material information for investors," the members wrote the SEC, which is fighting with Wall Street and big banks that got bailed out during the 2008-09 financial crisis over implementation of the 2009 law. 

Atlanta-based Moe's Southwest Grill, the restaurant franchise known for its flavorful southwest fare, has signed a deal to bring five new restaurants to the Twin Cities in the next three years under franchisee Paul Cherwien and his partners. The first will open late summer at the corner of Penn Avenue and American Boulevard in Bloomington as part of a United Properties-Stuart Co., $50 million development, which will combine retail, restaurants and housing. Cherwien has developed Applebee's restaurants in Indianapolis and Panera Bread shops in Philadelphia.