The list of prominent companies that began in Arkansas is outstanding: Tyson Chicken, J.B. Hunt trucking, and Walmart. All these became household names. Today, I will talk about Warren Stephens, whose family started Stephens Inc. during the great depression. His net worth exceeds $3.2 billion, making him the fourth richest person in Arkansas.
Who is Warren Stephens?
Warren Stephens is an American business executive and the chief executive officer of Stephens Inc., a privately held investment bank that focuses on building value for its clients headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. Warren Stephens was born on February 18, 1957, in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Warren Stephens earned his Bachelor's degree in Economics from Washington and Lee University in 1979. Warren then earned his Master's in Business Administration at Wake Forest University in 1981. He met his future wife, Harriet Calhoun, at Wake Forest, on a blind date.
Armed with his MBA, he joined Stephens Inc., a 139-employee company started by his father, Jackson T. Stephens, and uncle, Witt Stephens, in 1933.
The firm took Wal-Mart Public in 1970.
Stephens Inc. invested investors' money in various businesses and ventures, and it gained a reputation for sound financial advice. The firm became known for publicly taking the small Arkansas-based discount retailer Wal-Mart in 1970. Warren Stephens joined his family business in 1981 as an associate in the corporate finance department, where he focused on the oil and gas industry. By 1983, Warren Stephens shifted his focus to mergers and acquisitions.
He became the company CEO in 1986.
The company leadership team recognized his talent and named him Chief Executive Officer three years later. This made Warren more determined to focus on providing capital to middle-market and small-cap companies, just like his uncle and father did.
"We have never been under the illusion that someone would ride to our rescue, so we have always been conscientious about not taking risks that could jeopardize the ability of the firm to survive. Dad and Uncle Witt always impressed on me that one of their corporate goals was to be in business the next day."
Warren Stephens expanded into the insurance business.
Stephens had a grand vision to grow Stephens Inc. beyond its public finance, so he created Stephens Insurance in 1987 and helped Tyson Foods acquire Holly Farms for $1.4 billion by forcing Holly Farms' directors to accept a generous buyout offer. In 2004, Warren Stephens created Stephens Investment Management Group (SIMG) and took full control of Stephens Inc. in 2006.
He donates a lot of money to the Republican party.
Warren Stephens, a regular contributor to Republican causes, is among the deep pockets who donate a tremendous amount of money to the Republican party. In 2020, he donated $1 million to help Republicans gain more congressional seats.
If you had Warren A. Stephens's money, what causes would you support?