A spirit of independence has distinguished Stephens from the beginning. The firm was founded in 1933 by W.R. Witt Stephens. His brother, Jack Stephens, joined the firm in 1946 and served as Chairman of the Board and CEO of Stephens Inc. from 1956 to 1986. Since 1986, Warren A. Stephens, Jack’s son, has served as CEO. Today, Stephens remains a privately held financial services firm focused on building long-term relationships and long-term results.

A Legacy of Indepence | Interactive Timeline
  • Bridge


    A New Venture
  • Jack Stephens


    Building Prosperity
  • Sytematics


    Investing in the Future
  • Walton's


    Growing with Our Clients
  • Warren Stephens


    2nd Generation Leadership
  • Stephen's Building


    Capitalizing on Independence

During the Great Depression, when confidence in the U.S. financial system was gravely shaken, W.R. “Witt” Stephens takes a chance on the future of America.

Witt Stephens Arkansas Highway Bond Bridge

Witt Stephens establishes the firm to trade Arkansas Highway bonds, then selling for as low as pennies on the dollar. By the time the bonds paid off at par in the early '40s, Stephens has gained a reputation for both municipal bond expertise and for providing sound financial counseling.

Stephens History

The original Stephens Inc. building in downtown Little Rock until the firm moved to its current location in 1990.

As America begins to focus on post-war production, Stephens invests in - and contributes to - a new era of expansion and prosperity.

Witt and Jack Stephens

Jackson T. “Jack” Stephens joins his brother upon his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy. Together they form Stephens Inc. on a handshake partnership that lasts over forty-five years. That philosophy of partnership continues to guide the way Stephens does business today.

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Arkanasas Oklahoma Gas Company

Stephens purchases the Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Co.

Allied Telephone begins a decades-long relationship with Stephens. The company will ultimately evolve into global telecom giant Alltel.

Stephens acquires the Oklahoma Producing Co., renaming it Stephens Production Company.

Stephens purchases the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Co. (ArkLa).

During the 1960s, the postwar boom begins to slow and doubts begin to grow about the future of the economy. Nevertheless, Stephens remains resolute. The firm begins trading corporate securities and investing in businesses that would become the firm’s private equity strategy.

Jack Stephens

Jack becomes President of Stephens Inc. Witt leaves the firm to become President and Chairman of Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company, where he stays until 1973.

Systematics Computer Room

Anticipating the coming revolution in bank data processing, Jack Stephens deploys excess computing capacity at Union Life, which was owned by the Stephens family. With $400,000 in start-up capital invested, Stephens created Systematics, which would become a leader in the bank data processing industry. This relationship continued over 40 years, with Systematics eventually acquired by Alltel and becoming Alltel Information Services. AIS is later acquired by Fidelity National Information Systems.

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Under Jack’s leadership, Stephens begins a successful foray into private equity investing. Among the companies owned by the firm are a number of banks and a chain of nursing homes.

NC Stephens Production Beverly

With the dawn of the 1970s, Stephens expands its investment banking capabilities. Raising capital for companies in Arkansas and beyond, Stephens expands during a tough economic environment by focusing on enduring relationships.

Walton's Store Sam Walton and Jack Stephens

Stephens takes a small Arkansas-based discount retailer public. Not only does the capital help fund Walmart's growth, it is part of a long and constructive partnership between Sam Walton and Jack - the kind of partnership Stephens continues to build with clients today.

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Superdome New Orleans

Together with the First National Bank of Commerce, Stephens underwrites $113 million in municipal bonds to help build the Louisiana Superdome. At the time, this is the largest single municipal bond issue in the history of the Southern states.

Worthen Banking

The Stephens family invests in Worthen Banking Corporation. In April 1985, the bankruptcy of Bevill, Bresler & Schulman wipes out Worthen's capital. Led by Jack Stephens, the shareholders provide the funds necessary to recapitalize the bank and keep it solvent.

The 1980s usher in a new era of innovation, setting the stage for the technology boom of the 1990s. Warren Stephens leads the firm into an era of strategic growth and expansion, establishing Stephens as a truly national, independent financial services firm.

Warren and Jack Stephens

Warren A. Stephens is named Chief Executive Officer of Stephens Inc., carrying on the tradition of family values and leadership begun by his father, Jack, and his uncle, Witt.


With Stephens' guidance, Tyson Foods acquires Holly Farms for $1.5 billion in a hostile takeover.

Stephens Media

Stephens purchases Donrey Media, renaming it Stephens Media Group. At the time of the transaction, Donrey owns and operates 52 newspapers, 12 outdoor advertising franchises, 7 cable operations and 1 television station. Today, SMG's holdings include the Las Vegas Review Journal, the Northwest Arkansas Morning News and several other newspapers throughout the U.S.

Stephens Insurance is established.

Stephens Inc. becomes a member of the New York Stock Exchange.

Systematics is sold to Alltel Corporation and becomes Alltel Information Services, which in turn is sold to Fidelity National Information Systems. Stephens has never sold its equity stake from its first investment in 1968.

Stephens invests in Viking Range, providing the growth capital needed to expand into a leading international brand.

Worthen is sold to Boatmen's Bancshares, a large St. Louis-based regional bank. Two years later, Boatmen's is sold to NationsBank, which in turn becomes Bank of America.

The Private Client Group is established to serve the wealth management needs of high net worth families, and the first Stephens branch office is opened in Conway, AR.

A global economic crisis, triggered by the meltdown of the housing market, severely impacts financial markets and poses a grave threat to all financial institutions. Having avoided the over-leveraging that brought down other investment firms, Stephens remains sound and continues to grow.

Stephens Offices Map

Stephens invests in Hotchkis & Wiley, a leading Los Angeles- based investment management firm.

Stephens Investment Management Group (SIMG) is founded.

Warren Stephens acquires 100% of Stephens Inc.

Stephens launches a new brand captured in a new tagline: Capitalize on Independence.

Stephens has 25 offices in 14 states.

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Warren Stephens Memo

Warren Stephens addresses the impact of the financial crisis in a memo to all Stephens employees. Click to read memo.