Stephens Inc. and its CEO Warren Stephens are featured prominently in a New York Times article today about asset management. Stephens is depicted as a provider of a "caring approach" to wealth management.
Advisers in this camp say they manage money as if it were their own. Their approach is less flashy by design than others, and they go beyond the issue of fiduciary responsibility of registered investment advisers, they say.
One large firm using this approach is Stephens Inc., a privately held bank run by Warren Stephens, founded by his uncle in 1933 and later run by his father. The firm’s claim to fame is having brought Wal-Mart public in 1970; it added the wealth-management division in 2001.
In the last three years, Mr. Stephens says, he has added 25 advisers, for a total of 107, and with them clients who fit the Stephens ethos: people who want stability with steady growth. “We’re not immune to our clients’ portfolios being down somewhat,” Mr. Stephens said. “We’ve benefited from the real and perceived stability of our firm.”
The wealth management division now manages $7 billion, the same amount it managed before the recession.