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Mindy Diamond on Independence: Stifel’s $400B Success Story

Stifel CEO Ron Kruszewski shares what the term "regional firm" represents today.


When we started this series some four years ago, we expected to share a handful of episodes that explored the independent space—hence the name Mindy Diamond on Independence.

But we came to a realization: There was a far bigger story to tell. That is, one that was not focused solely on a model but instead on a mindset. An evolved state-of-mind amongst advisors who were eschewing the bureaucracy of the brokerage world they grew up in for models that offered greater freedom and control.

Because the reality is that not all advisors are looking to cast aside their W-2s and become business owners. Instead, they are looking for more control over how they manage clients; more creativity in how they market their services; and ultimately, freedom from the bureaucracy that is preventing them from living their best business lives.

Take, for example, regional firms. A moniker that once represented smaller firms with a limited geographic footprint has since taken on a completely different meaning in the evolved wealth management landscape.

The new regionals are by no means small—and have come to represent a cultural appeal unlike their wirehouse counterparts.

And those geographic limitations are also a thing of the past.

Stifel CEO Ron Kruszewski

Stifel CEO Ron Kruszewski

In this episode, Ron Kruszewski, Chairman and CEO of Stifel Financial Corp., shares how the firm serves as an example of what the term “regional firm” represents today.

That is, one with nearly 2,300 advisors managing some $400 billion in assets and $4.6 billion in projected revenue.

And that’s a far cry from where the firm was back in 1997 when Ron became CEO: At that time, the firm’s revenue was at $100 million with assets under management at $8 billion.

Stifel stakes the claim of being the only investment bank and financial services firm with 25 years of record revenue—even throughout the financial crisis in 2008.

Today, Stifel is the nation’s 7th largest full-service wealth management and investment banking firm in terms of number of advisors. Ron talks about Stifel’s success, including:

  • Their extraordinary growth—and how several strategic acquisitions made over the last two decades contributed to the firm’s accretion.
  • The broad capabilities of Stifel’s global bank—and how that adds to the value advisors can offer their clients.
  • The real difference between Stifel and other firms and models—and how the lack of bureaucracy is one of the most attractive qualities of the firm.
  • Their independent channel—and how it competes with launching or joining an RIA.
  • The firm’s entrepreneurial culture—and how that culture allows the advisors to act in their clients’ best interests.

While culture is one of the most over-used terms in the industry, the fact is that it is often the main reason an advisor changes firms or models.

As Ron shares, Stifel places a high value on an environment built around advisors and their ability to have agency over how they do business, with the bonus of support and community.

And for many advisors, that’s the perfect mix.

Listen in to learn more about Stifel and how it fits into the ever-expanding industry landscape.

Download a transcript of this episode…

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Listen to more episodes of Mindy Diamond on Independence: A Podcast for Financial Advisors Considering Change.


Mindy Diamond is CEO of Diamond Consultants in Morristown, N.J., a nationally recognized boutique search and consulting firm in the financial services industry.

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