Dennis Hunt, Executive Vice President and Head of Public Finance at Stephens, shares his perspective on how our bankers work with local and state-level entities to achieve their funding goals.
1. How has Public Finance evolved as a group over the last several years?
The focus of Public Finance over the past few years has been to expand our presence within our existing markets. For example, in our Texas market we recently hired two professionals to initiate a business model serving public education clients. Alfred Ray, Vice President, is a former schools superintendent in that state who holds a doctorate in education. Brian Garcia, Senior Vice President, has worked on hundreds of financings for municipal issuers across the country throughout his career.
2. To what do you attribute your team’s success during that time?
In a word: teamwork. Our strategy has been to encourage the creation of teams of Public Finance bankers, in order to develop long-lasting relationships with our clients. At many firms, bankers operate independent of each other and rarely collaborate on projects. We have found great success doing the opposite, so we will continue to build strong and successful teams in each of our markets. This enables us to be more responsive for clients, and to generate better solutions for them.
3. Are there specific qualities you look for when recruiting top talent?
While we look for highly qualified Public Finance professionals, our key considerations for recruiting talent are the individual’s integrity and strong ethical standards. We seek professionals who embrace the unique culture of Stephens, are committed to acting in the best interests of our clients, and value improving the communities where they work more than simply accumulating a series of transactions. Serving as a trusted advisor to our clients is always my top priority when recruiting talent.
4. What kind of projects demonstrate how your team provides innovative client solutions?
Since 2017, Congress has prohibited most advance refundings of tax-exempt municipal bonds. We have been fortunate to help many issuers access Cinderella Bonds as a means of achieving their refunding goals over the past several years. Our approach has enabled clients to benefit from the low interest rate environment that has prevailed during that time period. Through this financing mechanism, clients still can achieve fairly significant savings on their outstanding debt.
5. How does Public Finance plan to build on its momentum in the years ahead?
Our future success is contingent on our client relationships. First I want to thank our current clients that have entrusted our firm to address their financing needs over the years. As we move forward, our strategy is to enlarge our current market footprint. While we do so, we always will keep in mind that our top priority is maintaining the responsiveness and personal attention that our clients expect and deserve. As we grow, we will continue to effectively focus on each and every client.