W.R. "Witt" Stephens and his brother, Jackson T. "Jack" Stephens, rose from humble beginnings in Prattsville to run one of the largest U.S. investment banking firms off Wall Street. The Stephens family's influence on business in Arkansas cannot be overstated.
Founded in 1933 by Witt Stephens, investment firm Stephens Inc. is the chief source of wealth for the Stephens family. Jack Stephens joined the company in 1956 as president. His son, Warren Stephens, took over in 1986. Jack died in 2005.
In 2006, the Stephens family split the family business. Warren Stephens bought 100 percent of Stephens Inc. from the holding company, The Stephens Group. His cousins, Witt Stephens Jr. and Elizabeth Stephens Campbell, bought the Stephens Group Inc. name and formed a new entity to pursue private equity investments. The families remain 50-50 partners in the holding company, now renamed SH Corp. It operates joint investments such as Las Vegas-based Stephens Media Group and Stephens Production Co.
Stephens Inc. remains, by far, the largest broker dealer in Arkansas, and its Stephens Capital Management division is the state's largest registered investment adviser. The Stephens Group LLC exceeded $200 million in private equity investing during its first 12 months of operations.
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