Not that you need reminding, but Wall Street is one tough place to survive. Not that I needed reminding, but Alan Skrainka, chief market strategist for Edward Jones, was in my office today, proudly showing me the survivors of Wall Steet. The highlighted companies in the tombstone are the firms who are still independent.
This is a reproduction of a tombstone that ran in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, 18 January, 1956. The Ford IPO was apparently so large --- 10.2 million shares raising nearly $660 million (in 1956 dollars) --- that nearly every major firm on Wall Street was part of the syndicate, says Skrainka. Of the 261 firms listed (according to Skrainka, as I did not count them myself, but we'll take him at his word), just 12 firms still operate independently or still exist at all. Sure, lots has changed on Wall Street --- including the birth of the hedge fund industry since that time. But the point is well taken: Wall Street is a tough place, especially given the risk that some firms will take on to make profits. (Merrill Lynch, which created the bringing-Wall-Street-to-Main-Street concept, is exhibit A.)
Since the reporoduction may be hard to read, here are the 12 firms still operating as independent entities: Goldman Sachs, Lazard, Allen & Co., Dominick & Dominick, Crowell, Weedon & Co., William Blair & Co., First Southwest Company, Johnston, Lemon & Co., Johnston, Lemon & Co., Edward D. Jones & co., Smith, Moore & Co., Stifel, Nicolaus, and Arnhold and S. Belichroeder.
Skrainka's point was that Ed Jones takes care of its clients and its capital and is still a partnership. Sure, Ed Jones is not noted for its sophistication, which, Skrainnka points out, has served the company (and its clients) well over the 90 or so years of its existence.