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April 06, 2016

Inside Stephens Q&A: Ryan Mahoney, Stephens Insurance

What did you do between graduating from Dartmouth in 2008 and joining Stephens in 2010?

My goal was to work in the private sector. When I graduated it wasn’t the ideal time for that, so I went home to Massachusetts and taught. I worked in an inner-city school system and taught autistic kids and students at an alternative school for older teens. And when a research position opened up at Stephens in Transportation in 2010, I moved to Little Rock.

What did you take away from your time teaching that’s useful to you in your current job in insurance?

Patience. There’s always the tension between wanting to do the best you can for clients and wanting to do it as quickly as you can. Doing it well, doing it right often takes time, and I accept you can’t do it all in one day.  I would have learned patience on the job, but I came in better prepared from teaching.  

How did you go from research to insurance?

Insurance is one of the newer businesses at Stephens and it has really taken off in the last 10 years under CEO Marty Rhodes. When Stephens hired Steve Jones, who had 20 years working in transportation insurance, they wanted to leverage his expertise to build up the Transportation sector. My background from research made the transition pretty smooth and working with Steve has given me an amazing boots-on-the-ground education. His knowledge, his generosity in sharing it, his approach to hands-on learning – you can’t put a value on that.

What are the trends affecting the transportation sector?

The main issues have to do with regulation, driver shortage, and safety. As of September 30, 2015, trucking companies have two years to comply with regulations on installing electronic logging devices in all vehicles to monitor drivers’ hours. This is a safety measure, but it also will have an impact on logistics and efficiency, so there will be a learning curve. There will likely be capacity taken out of the market; we’re already seeing a lot of consolidation. Even so, finding qualified drivers is an ongoing issue, and with strict limits on the number of hours drivers can be behind the wheel, more drivers will be needed. 

How does this affect Stephens’ clients?

Our goal is to help keep clients abreast of regulatory developments and timelines and help them enhance their compliance, safety, and efficiency in a cost-effective way that makes sense for them. Many of the smaller companies do not have the same resources as the larger companies, so our access to the most up-to-date data and research is a big asset for them.  Also, we have our own safety and loss control department so we can advise clients on how to reap the benefits of an enhanced safety program.

You recently have branched out to more industries, what’s driving this growth?

We have a great team here! Not just in Stephens Insurance but throughout the entire Company. Since I spent three years in the Research Department working closely with many of the analysts that now cover approximately 525 companies and growing, it seemed natural to delve into many of these verticals where we already have strong relationships and knowledge. The depth of our resources and intellectual capital are a significant advantage in our ability to service clients across industries and capacities.  Our goal is to be a partner with our clients, not just a vendor! I hope to continue to forge many strong partnerships throughout the years ahead.

What would you tell someone who might be thinking about joining Stephens?

It’s Wall Street on Main Street. We have access to all the resources and industry data you could ever ask for and capabilities across insurance, investment banking, and research, which allows us to offer all the services a customer could want or need. That’s a real distinguishing factor that I know Stephens’ clients appreciate.

I’ve seen other shops that are more generalist.  I like that we have focus and expertise in verticals. I collaborate with many different areas of the Stephens organization, and I can serve as a liaison to prospects and clients with a lot of data that I don’t think I would have access or opportunity to elsewhere.  If you are willing to put in the work and the time, the people here at Stephens are going to support you and allow you to showcase your strengths.

Also, Little Rock is a great place. I thought I’d be here a year and then go to the Boston office. Five and a half years later, I’m still here. I miss the ocean, but Little Rock has everything else you could want, especially if you are an outdoors or sports-oriented person. It wasn’t a culture shock, but more of a culture surprise. I’ve come to appreciate the more laid-back atmosphere.

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