Stifel Financial Corp.

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 Partners.

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 was struck.

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 Westlake Village.

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 paperless environment."
● "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 room."
● "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 were contracting."
● "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."

Fun Facts 
● "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 program."
● "The firm has online programs to help educate employees, and the department heads are always willing to help with any questions."
● "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 efficient."
● "We have continuing education classes to maintain licensed employees and yearly training for brokers and sales assistants."
● "Here's your desk, go to work."

Compensation [5.96]

● "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 my duties."
● "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."

Perks
● "The firm has very few perks, just s 401(k) and employee stock."
● "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 leave.

Diversity with Respect to Women [7.23]; Minorities [7.23]; GLBT [7.27]

● 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."

Hours [8.64]

● "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 the job."

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."

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Stifel Financial Corp.


501 N. Broadway
St. Louis, MO 63102
Phone: (314) 342-2000
Fax: (314) 342-2151
www.stifel.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: SF
  • Stock Exchange: NYSE
  • Chairman & CEO: Ronald J. Kruszewski
  • 2010 Employees: 5,000

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