UPDATED: Stanford Group, Now Under SEC Investigation, Entered Little Rock in 2006

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009 11:14 am  

Exactly what the Securities & Exchange Commission's action on Tuesday means for clients of the Stanford Financial Group's Little Rock office is not clear, although their assets are presumably frozen.

A spokesman for the Houston-based company had not returned ArkansasBusiness.com's call after more than 24 hours, and no one in the office at 500 President Clinton Ave. is authorized to speak to the media.

State regulators are "working with the local office" of Stanford "to determine exposure to Arkansas clients," said David Smith, attorney for the Arkansas Securities Department, although the investigation is primarily being handled by federal regulators from the SEC.

Smith said Stanford has eight registered broker-dealers in Arkansas.

Stanford Group entered Little Rock in 2006 by buying the local wealth management team of StillPoint Advisors of Atlanta.

In turn, StillPoint had hired four financial advisers and three assistants from Merrill Lynch in Little Rock in late 2004. Those financial advisers were Christopher J. Collier, Mike Arthur, Jim Alguire and Matt McDaniel, all of whom are still named on the Stanford Web site, along with Lori Bensing, managing director; and Heath Stevens, vice president and financial adviser.

Although Pat Watson is listed on the Web site as a financial adviser, he called ArkansasBusiness.com to say that he left the Stanford Group in September and is now living out of state. He had no other comment on his former employer.

Smith encouraged Arkansas residents who have complaints about Stanford to call the Securities Department at (501) 324-9260.



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