A steady powerhouse
Stifel Financial is a St. Louis-headquartered investment bank that
focuses on providing financial services to middle-market
companies. Stifel provides brokerage, trading, investment
banking, asset management, research, advisory and other financial
services to customers in the U.S and Europe. Investment
banking is handled by Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated
(Stifel Nicolaus), which was founded in 1890 and is one of the
largest middle-market investment banks in the U.S. It's also
home to one of the nation's largest domestic equity research
programs, with over 1,000 companies under coverage. Although
the firm's headquarters are in St. Louis, its capital markets
efforts are based in Baltimore. As of mid-2010, Stifel
Financial had about 5,000 employees; including 1,500 financial
advisors managing more than $60 billion in client assets.
Buying Thomas Weisel
Since 2007 Stifel has been a buying spree, making many key
acquisitions, but none has been more significant than the $318
million all-stock deal it struck in July 2010 to purchase San
Francisco-based investment banking boutique Thomas Weisel
A well-known name in the industry, Thomas Weisel Partners
offered investment banking, asset management, equity research and
brokerage services from headquarters in San Francisco, as well as
out of offices in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, New York,
Portland, Calgary, Toronto, London and Zurich. Its
acquisition should go a long way towards Stifel's goal of building
the premier middle-market investment bank in the U.S.
Thomas Weisel Partners was founded in 1998 by Thomas W. Weisel
(Wize-ul), the man who founded Montgomery Securities 37 years
earlier. In 1997, Weisel sold Montgomery to NationsBank for
$1.3 billion. When NationsBank merged with BankAmerica to
form Bank of America, he left his first firm behind to start
another. Thomas Weisel Partners went public in 2006,
launching a self-underwritten IPO. The stock debuted strong
and rose 30 percent above its $15 per share offering price on its
first day of trading. This strong performance shocked Wall
Street insiders who had predicted a less rosy future for the IPO
after Goldman Sachs backed out as the underwriter just one month
before TWP went public. However, after its successful debut,
Thomas Weisel Partners' stock had been volatile and, at the time
that Stifel purchased the firm, the price lingered at about
one-third of its debut price. Ultimately, the Stifel
acquisition valued Thomas Weisel's stock at $7.60 per share, a
healthy premium above its $4.36 close on the Friday before the deal
Big openings and buys pre-TWP
In February 2007, Stifel closed a deal with BankAtlantic Bancorp
to buy one of its wholly owned subsidiaries, Ryan Beck
Holdings. Through its principal subsidiary, Ryan Beck &
Co., the New Jersey-based Ryan Beck provided financial advice to
individuals, institutions and corporate clients. Its private
client group included approximately 400 financial advisors (most of
them located in the mid-Atlantic region), and over $19 billion in
client assets. Under the terms of the transaction, Ryan
Beck's 1,000-plus employees and 40 offices operated as a Stifel
subsidiary and were integrated into Stifel Nicolaus over the course
of 2007. The combination of Ryan Beck and Stifel's private
client group brought together Ryan Beck's 395 financial advisors
with Stifel's 564 advisors. At the close of the acquisition,
Ryan Beck chairman and CEO Ben A. Plotkin was invited to join the
Stifel board of directors.
If 2008 was the year of the bust, Stifel Nicolaus never got the
memo. Instead, the St. Louis-based firm opened more than a
dozen new offices, acquired another financial advisory for its
docket, and racked up accolades and revenue. During the year,
the firm opened 14 new private client offices throughout the
U.S. Three of the firm's new outposts, Phoenix, Ariz.;
Seattle, Wash.; and Medford, Ore., represented the firm's first
forays into those states. Stifel also opened offices in
Brevard, N.C.; Florence, S.C.; Frontenac, Mo.; Harwich, Mass.;
Memphis, Tenn.; Oconomowoc, Wis.; Ramsey, N.J..; and Springfield,
Ill. Additionally, it doubled its number of offices in
California with openings in Lincoln Hills, Monterey, Oxnard and
In 2009, Stifel agreed to acquire up to 55 branches from the UBS
Wealth Management Americas branch network. The 55 offices are
located in 24 states throughout the U.S., and employ approximately
320 financial advisors, who have approximately $15 billion in
assets under management. At the beginning of the year, Stifel
also closed on its $12 million acquisition of Butler Wick &
Company, a financial advisory firm with 175 employees spread across
23 offices in three states. Butler Wick was founded in 1926
and is headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio.
Environmentally Friendly Practices [6.05]
● "We are committed to green ideas. We also have a long way to go
in achieving an overall goal."
●"We've begun green initiatives concerning vending, and a
sustainability/green initiative concerning construction. We promote
recycling, no-smoking policies and ride-share programs."
● "I have not seen any specific environmentally friendly
policies, but I do know that we are attempting to move to a
● "Not aware that we are or are not committed."
Office Space [5.73]
● "We are quickly running out of space."
● "Office building location is great: it's convenient for
associates to commute via car or mass transit. Internal desks and
decor could be refreshed, though."
● "We have a very nicely decorated office space. It is clean,
easily accessible and has recently been updated."
● "Our office space is comfortable, but I believe the offices
could have been made smaller so as to fit in more space for more
staff. As of now, we do not have any more room for staff, so we are
going to have to redesign the offices in order to make more
● "Never enough room, and the accommodations range from
adequate to very inadequate."
Business Outlook [9.18]
● "Stifel is positioned well for rapid growth."
● "We've been growing for the last 14 years."
● "Because of our proactive management team, we are well
positioned to thrive. We were expanding even when other companies
● "Fortune 500 survey lists Stifel as one of the fastest
growing companies in the financial sector."
● "Promotions are not based on performance, which hurts
morale. It's hard to find reasons to improve when you're not going
to get rewarded."
● "Our CEO is continuously adding value to our firm through
mergers and buyouts that benefit employees and clients, which makes
us very competitive."
● "Firm is financially healthy and management is shrewd."
● "Largest research firm in the U.S."
● "We have been operating for over 100 years."
● "It's pronounced Stee-fel."
Training [3.96, formal; 5.23, informal]
● "There is very little formal training provided. A great
deal of training comes from mentoring."
● "We would benefit from a more formalized training
● "The firm has online programs to help educate employees,
and the department heads are always willing to help with any
● "We could use more training for new associates."
● "This is definitely one area that Stifel can improve upon,
at least in the administrative areas of the firm. We do not have
any formal training programs in our department. We rely on training
each other and trial-by-error training. This is definitely
something I feel definitely needs to be better and needs to be
moved up on the priority list, especially if we want to remain
● "We have continuing education classes to maintain licensed
employees and yearly training for brokers and sales
● "Here's your desk, go to work."
● "The year-end bonus and base salary are very low
compared to other firms."
● "Incentive bonuses are not tied to anything. It's very
difficult to know if you're doing a good job or not."
● "Great bonuses, but I'm young and don't have a lot of
experience with bonuses. Seems to get better every year."
● "I'm compensated well for my title but only adequately for
● "Maybe I had low expectations, but I make more money than I
ever thought I would. I try like crazy to be worth it."
● "I don't feel like payment or bonuses are based on
performance. It makes motivation to improve very difficult."
● "Fair vs. industry standard."
● "The firm has very few perks, just s 401(k) and employee
● "Cheap soda (25 cents), occasional tickets to a ballgame or
sporting event, group discounts."
Respondents also point out that the firm offers moving expense
reimbursement, free parking, free or subsidized gym memberships,
telecommuting, flex-time, paternity leave and extended maternity
Diversity with Respect to Women [7.23]; Minorities [7.23];
● The industry and the company continue to be dominated by
white, heterosexual males (old, stuffed shirts)."
● "The company does not discriminate. If the talent and
education of a candidate fits our needs, then that individual will
be considered for positions, promotions, etc."
● "I don't think there is any big push for diversity, but
people appear to be promoted based on merit."
● "I believe the firm's policies for the above are in line
with those of other companies."
● "Male-dominated business and that is obvious here."
● "When projects, assignments or goals need to be completed
there can be a great deal of time required. However, during slower
periods there is freedom to cut back."
● "I work probably 55 to 65 hours a week. On occasion, I am
able to work from home."
● "The tasks I perform throughout the day help to make the
days go by quickly. I don't have much lag time."
● "I have recently hired some really great people, who have
freed up a lot of my time."
● "We work until we get the job done."
● "I am very satisfied with my work hours. Stifel is flexible
with work hours, as long as the work gets done."
● "For the most part, I work a normal 40-hour workweek.
However, when required, I put in 50 to 60 hours per week. This does
not bother me at all, as my main goal is to do the best job I can
do to service our clients to the best of my ability."
● "We have flex time, so that's nice."
● "I work more than I would like, but I think it comes with
Manager Relations [8.38]
● "Senior professionals are very big picture minded.
Junior professionals are allowed to find the best way to accomplish
a goal. Very little direction provided."
● "They talk to you as though you are equals and make you
want to impress them."
●"As long as you're willing to work to complete your tasks and
give your all, you are treated very well. If you don't, you may be
disciplined. And if you don't correct your behavior, you will not
be employed for long."
● "They are always willing to help and educate are always
there if problems arise and you need guidance."
● "The relationships between managers and staff is great.
Managers seek out our ideas and challenge us to find new ways of
doing things. We operate in an open-door environment and I have
never felt intimidated to walk into a manager's office and present
my ideas with confidence."
● "I feel that in our home office the senior professionals
and managers treat the junior professionals very respectful.
However, in the branches, that can be a totally different story.
While the branch office I work in is very professional and
respect-oriented, I have worked in another branch office in which
there was very little respect."
● "Senior management does not demonstrate much care or
consideration of middle management or home office personnel."
● "Everyone is respected and trained well before taking on
the greater tasks. It's a professional environment."