Stephens Capital Management is an asset management firm that generally invests client assets across exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Its financial advisors also specialize in other financial areas like insurance. Headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, the firm currently oversees more than $9.50 billion in assets under management (AUM).
In business since 1946, parent company Stephens Inc. is a full-service broker-dealer and investment bank. A pioneer in private equity, it’s probably most known for having helped Walmart, a local discount retailer at the time, raise capital in its IPO.
Stephens Capital Management is the investment advisory arm of Stephens Inc. It’s led by Chairman and CEO Warren A. Stephens, a son of one of the company’s founders. He began his career with the firm back in 1986. In addition, he served on the NASD District Conduct Committee for three years, finishing as its chairman.
What Types of Clients Does Stephens Accept?
Stephens Capital provides asset management services to individuals, pension plans, foundations and businesses.
Stephens Minimum Account Size
The firm generally requires a minimum of $50,000 in assets in order for clients to establish an investment advisory relationship.
Services Offered by Stephens
Stephens Capital mainly offers asset-management advice around ETFs that invest in equity and fixed income securities. The firm’s mission is to capture high total returns on investments by focusing on index funds. On occasion, the firm may consider mutual fund investments if it deems it appropriate to your situation.
The firm appoints investment advisor representatives to each individual client’s account. This person would meet with clients at least once a year to discuss investment portfolios and financial goals. However, clients are free to contact their investment advisor representatives at any time to discuss their accounts or if they have questions.
In addition, the firm’s advisors specialize in the following financial topics:
- Investment banking
- Capital management
- Institutional equities and research
- Private equity
- Fixed-income sales and trading
Stephens Investment Strategy
Stephens Capital initiates its investing strategy by analyzing indexes that track segments of the market it may want to invest in. With software by Morningstar, the firm builds model portfolios using those indices. It aims to devise portfolios that have potential for the highest return for given levels of risk and diversification, based on the historical performance of these indixes since 1988. Stephens updates these models on an annual basis.
Depending on your individual circumstances such as risk tolerance and time horizon, the firm applies one of these models to your assets. The firm also considers external factors such as broad stock market earnings, the interest rate environment and the outlook for inflation and interest rates. Clients may contact the firm to request certain limitations such as restrictions on investing in certain asset classes.
Fees Under Stephens
Clients of Stephens Capital pay a wrap fee equal to 1.5% of their AUM. This fee covers expenses for fund management, brokerage services and custodial services.
On occasion, the firm may enter a performance-based fee agreement with clients. This means your fee may be larger if the portfolio performs significantly well. However, the firm would disclose all details related to this fee structure if it applies to you.
However, you can compare the firm's fees to national median rates. We describe these on the table below. Note that we assume your advisory fee for Stephen's services would be the current maximum asset-based wrap fee.
|*Fee estimates only consider the maximum base fees for the services each firm provides. You may also pay manager fees and other fees, which can vary in amount. **All figures are based on median fee levels according to Bob Veres' 2017 Planning Profession Fee Survey. The above estimates solely take into account AUM-only fees. Total costs will likely be higher due to additional expenses.|
|Estimated Fee Comparison*|
|Your Assets||Stephens Wrap Fee||National Median Advisory Fees**|
|$1MM||$15,000||$8,500 - $10,000|
|$5MM||$75,000||$25,000 - $32,500|
What to Watch Out For
As mentioned above, the firm may charge performance-based fees. This may incentivise portfolio advisors to take on considerably more risk to capture a stronger return. In such an event, you should review all the details of this agreement and make sure you’re comfortable with it.
Also, Stephens Capital is affiliated with various financial services firms such as investment banking and insurance companies as well as other asset management companies. This framework may create a conflict of interest as some advisors may be incentivised to recommend or sell products from such affiliates. However, Stephens Capital has a written code of conduct and takes several precautions to reduce potential conflicts of interest. In addition, it must uphold its fiduciary duty as a registered investment advisor (RIA). This means the firm must always work in your best interest. In addition, Stephens must disclose any potential conflict of interest that may arise.
Neither denying or admitting wrongdoing, Stephens Capital entered a Share Class Selection Disclosure Initiative with the SEC. The order alleged that Stephens did not properly disclose conflicts of interest in connection with the recommendation of mutual fund share classes that paid 12b-1 fees to Stephens when less expensive share classes of the same fund that would not pay these fees were available. According to the firm’s SEC filings, the SEC issued a cease and desist order and ordered that Stephens “be censured and pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest to advisory clients who held these more expensive mutual funds share classes in their advisory accounts.”
Additionally, operating as a broker-dealer, the company has faced various disciplinary events such as regulatory sanctions relating to compliance with trade reporting requirements.
Opening an Account With Stephens
To contact Stephens Capital, call (800) 643-9691 or (501) 377-2000 (headquarters). You can also send a message on its site: https://www.stephens.com/locations/.
Where Is Stephens Located?
As mentioned earlier, the headquarters are at:
111 Center Street
Little Rock, Arkansas
The company has 27 other offices across the country, plus one in London and Frankfurt. You can find the one closest to you on its site: https://www.stephens.com/locations/.
Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor
- Before you sign up with a financial advisor, make sure he or she is a fiduciary. This means the advisor is ethically bound to put your best interests first. For more things to know about prospective advisors, check out our story about the five questions to ask when choosing a financial advisor.
- Use our SmartAsset financial advisor matching tool. After answering some questions about your goals, you’ll be linked with up to three advisors in your area. You can access their profiles to compare their qualifications before making a decision.