Rush “Buddy” Harding IV has followed his father Rush Harding III in exiting Crews & Associates, the Little Rock bond brokerage his father co-founded.
But while the elder Harding went to Bank OZK, his son has taken a different path. Carty & Company Inc. of Memphis announced this week that Buddy will lead the investment firm’s expansion to Little Rock as a senior vice president and director of the market.
CEO Bill Carty said in an interview that Harding has also agreed to purchase up to a 25% equity stake in the company, and will sit on the board of directors and credit committee, which oversees the firm’s underwriting.
Carty, who has known the elder Harding since Crews & Associates was founded, said Buddy did some “eye-popping business” in his 14 years at the firm. Rush left the firm last year, and not long afterward, he reached out to Carty to let him know Buddy was exploring other opportunities.
According to Carty, Buddy considered purchasing smaller firms but decided the arrangement with Carty and its business model suited him best. The firm is focused on fixed-income securities, and it aims to keep costs low for investors by using a transactional model instead of one based on annual advisory fees. Under Buddy’s leadership in Little Rock, the firm plans to expand its retail, institutional and public financing.
Carty & Co. started out in 1970 by selling municipal bonds to community banks. It was founded after Carty, who spent years working for “big boys” including Merrill Lynch and IBM, decided to strike out on his own. Carty said Buddy has that same spirit. “That’s what kind of excited me about Buddy,” he said. “He did seem to have that entrepreneurial feeling that I had.”
Beyond Buddy’s involvement, Carty said other firms have shown there’s opportunity for growth in Little Rock.
“You’ve got a lot of firms like Stephens and Crews. It appeals to me in that there’s a lot of space to pick up people,” he said. “You can grow that way in Little Rock … We hope the folks over there like us and we can do some good things for the community.”