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What We Do

We provide investment banking, research, sales and trading, asset and wealth management, public finance, insurance, private capital, and family office services.

About Us

We are a family-owned financial services firm that values client relationships, long-term stability, and supporting the communities where we live and work.

The Stephens Story

The idea of family defines our culture, because each of us knows that our reputation is on the line as if our own name was on the door.

Leadership

Our reputation as a leading independent financial services firm is built on the stability of our longstanding and highly experienced senior executives.

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Stephens is proud to sponsor the PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour, and PGA TOUR Champions careers, as well as applaud the philanthropic endeavors, of our Brand Ambassadors.

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We host many highly informative meetings each year with clients, industry decision makers, and thought leaders across the U.S. and in Europe.

Our Businesses

Capital Management

We provide fiduciary investment strategies to public-and private-sector institutional clients through asset allocation, consulting, and retirement services.

Fixed Income Sales & Trading

Decades of proven performance and experience in providing tailored fixed income trading and underwriting services to major municipal and corporate issuers.

Institutional Equities and Research

Proven industry-leading research, global market insights, and client-focused execution.

Insurance

Customized risk management, property & casualty, executive strategies and employee benefits solutions that protect our clients over the long term.

Investment Banking

We assist companies with accessing capital through innovative advisory and execution services that help firms achieve their strategic goals.

Private Capital

We have been a trusted and reliable source of capital for private companies for over 70 years.

Private Wealth Management

Our experienced Private Client Group professionals develop customized investment strategies to help clients achieve their financial goals.

Public Finance

We are a trusted municipal advisor with proven expertise in public financings. We also work with clients in negotiated and competitive municipal underwritings.

Market Trends

Expect further M&A acceleration in UK-based asset and wealth management

Jun 1, 2022

As markets continue to digest the effects of the crisis in Ukraine and the ongoing pandemic recovery, fresh momentum has returned to the M&A space for asset and wealth management companies.

Fee pressure, which has been a feature of the post-financial crisis period, continues to intensify – driven by customers seeking better value for money and heightened transparency. The industry also remains inefficient and quite antiquated from a technology standpoint, so there is significant scope to streamline further.

In the UK, we anticipate continued action from asset managers, as the sharp rise in inflation, as well as ongoing supply chain issues and enduring pandemic-related pressures, still pose risks to many groups.

While a number of boutiques with strong and differentiated processes remain well positioned for the future, smaller groups with weaker business models could seek to merge with, or get taken over by, platforms with stronger international distribution capabilities. Additionally, all businesses will be looking to further reduce fixed costs by increasing outsourcing efforts.

Remarkable rate of recent activity

After a pause for reflection in the period following the emergence of Covid, the pace of M&A has picked up sharply in the wealth and asset management sectors over the past 18 months. The market has become incredibly competitive again for quality assets with a proven ability to operate in post-pandemic conditions, particularly entities able to present clients with an expanded offering.

Banks are continuing to sell or merge asset management arms – as seen by the Ameriprise Financial acquisition of BMO Financial Group’s EMEA Asset Management business[i], as well as by the private equity firms GTCR and Reverence Capital acquisition of Wells Fargo Asset Management from Wells Fargo & Co.[ii]

Larger asset managers have expanded capabilities, as seen by the T. Rowe Price acquisition of US-based alternative credit manager Oak Hill Advisors[iii]. We have seen similar capability expansion in the UK, as evidenced by the Schroders acquisition of River and Mercantile Group’s UK Solutions division (RMSD) [iv], as well as the Schroders acquisition of a 75% shareholding in Greencoat Capital – one of Europe’s largest investment managers dedicated to the high-growth renewable infrastructure market[v].

In wealth, newer business models – such as AJ Bell[vi] and Transact[vii] – continue to be highly rated and popular with investors. Pre-emptive bids to circumvent full sale processes have returned, as have trade buyers, with the latest being abrdn’s plans to acquire the subscription-based investment platform Interactive Investor[viii], the Aviva plc acquisition of Succession Wealth[ix] – and the Royal Bank of Canada proposed acquisition of Brewin Dolphin[x].

Private equity fund flow from the US also has been a key feature in the UK, with recent transactions including the Wren Sterling majority investment from investment funds affiliated with Lightyear Capital[xi], and the Flexpoint Ford acquisition of AFH Financial Group[xii]. This has pushed up the price of wealth platforms that are consolidating a fragmented UK market.

Banks and lenders remain supportive and are keen to put money to work, as long-term growth trends for the wealth and asset management sectors have strengthened over the past 18 months. Even though we are still in a period of significant uncertainty, the recent level of activity has been remarkable, and the pace shows no sign of letting up.


[i] Ameriprise Financial Completes Acquisition of BMO’s EMEA Asset Management Business | Ameriprise Newsroom

[ii] ALLSPRING GLOBAL INVESTMENTS COMMENCES OPERATIONS AS AN INDEPENDENT GLOBAL ASSET MANAGER - GTCR

[iii] T. ROWE PRICE COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF OAK HILL ADVISORS | T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. (troweprice.com)

[iv] Schroders creates market-leading Schroders Solutions following key acquisition - Media Relations - Schroders

[v] Schroders completes acquisition of majority shareholding in Greencoat Capital - Media Relations - Schroders

[vi] Acquisition of Adalpha | AJ Bell

[vii] Time4Advice-PRESS-RELEASE.pdf (transact-online.co.uk)

[viii] Proposed acquisition of interactive investor | abrdn

[ix] Aviva to acquire Succession Wealth - Aviva plc

[x] Royal Bank of Canada announces proposed acquisition of Brewin Dolphin - RBC News & Stories

[xi] Wren Sterling has Completed its Secondary Management Buyout (lycap.com)

[xii] Flexpoint Ford Completes Acquisition of AFH Financial Group plc - Flexpoint Ford, LLC

About the Expert

Hugh Elwes

Managing Director, Investment Banking

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