Stephens Holds Lead in Finance Management

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Sep. 26, 2011 12:00 am  

This year's look at the state's largest broker dealers, money managers and trust departments demonstrates the dominance of Stephens Inc. of Little Rock.

This week's lists can be downloaded for viewing by clicking on the links below:
• For a list of the state's largest broker-dealers, click here for a PDF or here for a spreadsheet version available for purchase.
• For a list of the state's largest trust departments, (PDF) or (Spreadsheet).
• For a list of the state's largest money managers, (PDF) or (Spreadsheet).

Although Stephens has lost six registered representatives in the state since September 2010, with 309 licensed agents it still ranked No. 1 on Arkansas Business' list of largest broker dealers in Arkansas. Since last year's list was published, Stephens has closed its offices in Richmond, Va., and New Haven, Conn. Stephens has a total of 526 registered representatives.

Stephens Inc.'s Stephens Capital Management division was also at the top of the list of the largest money managers in the state, which is ranked by assets under management.

With almost $3.38 billion in assets under management, Stephens Capital was nearly twice as large as the No. 2 firm, Foundation Resource Management Inc. of Little Rock, which had $1.86 billion in assets under management.

Money managers on the list are Securities & Exchange Commission-registered investment advisers, and they are ranked by assets under management as reported in their most recent Form ADVs filed with the SEC.

Stephens Capital Management's assets under management don't include another $928.6 million managed by Stephens Investment Management Group LLC, a mutual fund division that is separately registered with the SEC.

Topping the list of largest trust departments in Arkansas as ranked by trust assets is Simmons First Trust Co. of Pine Bluff, which had $2.3 billion in total trust assets, which include managed, non-managed and custody assets.

Broker Dealers
This year's list of largest broker dealers shows little movement in the rankings. The top five spots remained the same as last year.

One of the bigger movers was Morgan Keegan & Co. of Memphis. With 62 stockbrokers in Arkansas, Morgan Keegan climbed from No. 9 on last year's list to No. 6 for a tie with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC of New York.

Robert Keenan, the principal of St. Bernard Financial Services Inc. of Russellville, said only a small percentage of reps move from one company to another each year. He said most of the job-hopping comes in the fall, before reps have to renew their fees for the next year.

"You don't see many reps moving in the spring or summer unless there's a solid reason," Keenan said. His firm added one stockbroker last year and now is at 34.

He said St. Bernard always was looking for more brokers.

"We'd hired advisers as fast as we could hire them," he said. But it's hard to find people because the firm pays stockbrokers on commission. 

"We don't hire people off the street and train them like a lot of big firms do," Keenan said.

The number of registered representatives for Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. of Minneapolis and Arvest Asset Management of Lowell was listed as the same as last year because they didn't respond to several requests for information.

Trust Departments
The top six trust departments on this year's list remained in the same position as last year.

One of the biggest movers is Evolve Bank & Trust of West Memphis, which jumped from No. 12 on last year's list to No. 8 this year. Its trust assets increased 131.26 percent to $300.6 million at the end of 2010 compared with 2009. 

Two other firms had more than 100 percent increases in total trust assets, Merchants & Planters Bank at Newport and Southern Bancorp Bank in Arkadelphia.

The assets for trust departments can vary widely, said Joe Clement, president of Simmons First Trust Co.

"What happens is you're doing bond issues that are continually opening and closing," he said. "So you might do a new bond issue and you might get $50 million of bond proceeds. And then that money might get spent over a two-year period."

Clement said Simmons keeps an eye on the number of accounts it has as an indicator of its health, because the trust asset balances "change every month."



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