Anderson Strudwick winds down

After 63 years in the Richmond financial scene, the name Anderson Strudwick will soon be history.

Alabama-based Sterne Agee closed a deal Monday to acquire Anderson Strudwick, which up to that point had remained one of Richmond’s last independent brokerage firms.

Don Newlin, Anderson Strudwick’s chairman, said the transition to Sterne Agee won’t happen overnight.

“It will take some time to wind down the company,” said Newlin, who has been with the firm for 42 years. “The name — that’ll pretty much vanish.”

And a sizeable chunk of Anderson Strudwick is disappearing.

As part of the deal, Sterne Agee took on just seven of Anderson Strudwick’s 15 offices and about 50 of its brokers. Leading up to the deal, the firm had about 150 employees and about 90 brokers.

Anderson Strudwick grew to have more than 20 offices across the country, although it has been downsizing in recent months. It closed two offices in July, and several of its longtime brokers left for other firms this year.

“When it came down to it, there were some offices Sterne Agee really didn’t want,” Newlin said.

Sterne Agee COO Billy Holbrook said the company would retain Anderson Strudwick’s offices in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Norfolk, Knoxville, Tenn., Columbia, S.C., Charlotte and Charleston, S.C.

Many Anderson Strudwick employees didn’t wait around long enough to see what would become of their jobs.

“Some of them had already left,” said Holbrook. “After the deal was announced, a few of the offices departed on their own and went to other firms.”

The deal with Sterne Agee was announced in early October, when the two sides signed a letter of intent.

Founded in 1948, Anderson Strudwick had been shopping itself around for several years and was almost sold — twice — to Wunderlich Securities in 2009.

In addition to its brokerage business, the firm has investment banking and asset management divisions, although the bulk of its revenue has historically come from the brokerage side.

Sterne Agee will give Anderson Strudwick a much-needed stronger capital backing.

The company’s capital base had diminished over the past two year or so, and several deals to bring in new capital never materialized.

Sterne Agee also has the ability to clear its own trades, a service that will come in handy for Anderson Strudwick, which saw its ties to Pershing (one of the largest and most respected clearinghouses in the United States) severed this year.

Newlin said he’s still getting used to answer the phone “Sterne Agee.”

“I picked it up in a hurry the other day and reverted to form and said, ‘Anderson Strudwick,’” Newlin said. “It happens and is something that will hard to get over.”

He also has to get used to the new title on his Sterne Agee business cards.

“I’m a managing director now. I don’t know exactly what that means,” he said. “I’m here to be a stock broker, and that’s what I’ll do.”

Michael Schwartz is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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