Stifel’s ‘very good year’: More advisors, record assets

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It was a record year for Stifel.

Amid an aggressive recruiting push, the St. Louis-based brokerage notched new highs for revenue, net income and client assets.

CEO Ron Kruszewski said the results validated the company’s strategy. “I am obviously pleased with our record results,” he told analysts during an earnings call Thursday.

Stifel’s advisor ranks expanded to 2,127 for the fourth quarter from 2,051 for the same period a year ago, according to company earnings. To accommodate its burgeoning brokerage force, the firm opened 42 new branches last year, bringing the total to 446 offices.

Many of the firm’s recruits have come at the expense of its larger wirehouse rivals. They included one of the largest moves last year, a billion-dollar Merrill Lynch team that oversaw $1 billion and joined Stifel in a newly opened branch in Forth Worth, Texas.

The firm’s hiring streak has continued into 2020. Last week, it hired a former Wells Fargo advisor managing $350 million in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Kruszewski told analysts he expects Stifel to keep up the pace, noting investments in its platform and recruiting process.

“It’s a tough, competitive business and it has been for as long as I can remember. The difference is what we’ve done; we've grown the company and made investments in our company. A lot of people are coming in through the door. More than I have ever seen.

And it’s because of the model we’ve put on the table, which is advisor centric,” Kruszewski said.

Companywide, Stifel reported net revenues grew 14.9% year-over-year to $944.3 million. Net income rose 19% to $130 million. And client assets soared 22% to $329 billion.

“It was a very good year. One for the record books,” Kruszewski said.

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Earnings Recruiting Stifel Financial Regional BDs Ronald Kruszewski