Stifel Stalks Faltering Firms for Share in Brokerage Shakeup

 (Bloomberg) -- Stifel Financial Corp. Chief Executive Officer Ron Kruszewski paused in mid-sentence and asked an employee for the list, a chart showing in red which of the St. Louis-based firm’s rivals have closed or sold out.

“There’s this huge consolidation,” Kruszewski, 54, said in an interview in his office, referring to the once crowded field of U.S. regional and local brokerages that vied to serve mid-size companies. “What’s left is very few firms that ever were in the middle market. We’re one of them.”

About a dozen golf putters lean against a table. Nine floors down, the lobby is being remodeled with glass and white stone, while a bronze bull and bear statue is planned for outside. The way Kruszewski views it, St. Louis is now the No. 2 U.S. brokerage hub after New York. From his window he can see the Edward Jones Dome, the stadium named for the city’s other prominent securities firm and home field of the National Football League’s Rams.

Kruszewski is looking to U.S. brokerage-industry turmoil to provide yet more opportunities to grab market share and grow after a decade of acquisitions propelled Stifel ahead of peers. Smaller firms including Rodman & Renshaw LLC and WJB Capital Group Inc. are shuttering operations or selling themselves to larger companies as a drop in trading and lower commissions squeeze margins. Meanwhile, so-called bulge-bracket banks such as Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG are cutting employees and units as they retrench in the wake of the financial crisis.

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