Stifel Financial Corporation isn’t exactly a household name in the world of high finance. But the company has quietly made more than 20 mergers and acquisitions over the past 10 years. The most noteworthy of its early acquisitions was Thomas Weisel Partners in 2010. The all-stock deal was valued at more than $300 million.
Three years later, Stifel bought middle-market investment bank Keefe Bruyette & Woods.
More recently, Stifel acquired Barclays’s U.S. wealth management division. When all was said and done, about 100 of Barclays’s advisers, managing about $20 billion, stayed with the company.
Stifel CEO Ronald J. Kruszewski told On Wall Street that the deal improved potential recruits’ perception of Stifel. “People can say, ‘if the Barclays guys can do business there, then I can, too,’” he said. “I think our perception lags our reality. I think Barclays helped narrow that.”
That deal was valued between $150 million and $250 million.
For Stifel, the Barclays acquisition was a chance to gain a foothold in the ultra-high net worth bracket of investors, analysts said at the time. Considering that Stifel advisers manage about $89 million on average–while Barclays advisers average $189 million per adviser–it’s not surprising that Stifel jumped at the chance to acquire Barclays.
In 2016, Stifel acquired City Financial, a firm that offers wealth management and public finance services in the Midwest. Its 40 client advisers oversee approximately $4 billion in client assets.
“We believe the addition of City and its growing and profitable business to the Stifel platform further enhances the company’s growing presence in these two attractive businesses,” Kruszewski said in a statement.
Stifel has been opening more West Coast offices and doing more outreach to advisers in the region as part of its growth plan. Bill Willis, a recruiter in Palos Verdes Estates, California, told On Wall Street that Stifel is now about where Raymond James was a few years ago.
The firm is also benefiting from a shift in adviser preferences.
“Five or seven years ago, it was probably the submillion producer who chose the regional option,” said employment recruiter Louis Diamond. “Now there are plenty of advisers who could start their own RIA or go to another wirehouse but who are choosing the regional option. It fills a void in the market for advisers who are fed up with wirehouse bureaucracy but who are, at the same time, not looking to be independent.”
As proof of these changing preferences, Stifel recruited father-son team Michael and Christian Nimmo from UBS in May 2017. Michael Nimmo, a veteran in the industry, says it was Stifel’s culture fit and the opportunity to be more than a tiny part of a giant company that drew him and his son away from UBS.
“Stifel occupies a sweet spot for our practice,” Nimmo said. “It’s not too big to get lost in, yet big enough to offer all the resources we need to best help our clients.”
For Stifel, bringing those bigger-name teams—and their higher-value portfolios—aboard has worked. The firm’s combination of personalized service and advisers who know how to manage the investments of ultra-high net worth individuals is setting the company up for more growth in the future.