CHICAGO – St. Louis-based Stern Brothers & Co. has hired longtime public finance banker and manager Linda Matkowski to serve as chief operating officer as the investment bank looks to put more teeth into its status as a woman-owned firm heading into its second century of business.
Matkowski brings her gender and several decades of on-the-ground banking and leadership experience to the firm.
"Linda is the trifecta, she has management experience in investment banking and sales and trading, and deep operational knowledge. Her experience and industry knowledge make her a key addition to the Stern Brothers family as we grow the firm," said the firm's chief executive officer Peggy Finn.
"As a woman-owned business, it is important that we have women in senior leadership roles," she added. "That was certainly a factor in bringing Linda on board, not to mention the depth of her experience."
Matkowski spent the last 4 years as an executive vice president in fixed income capital markets at Indianapolis-based City Securities Corp. where she managed public finance, underwriting, institutional sales, retail and institutional trading, and municipal and corporate debt private placements. The firm was acquired by Stifel Financial last year.
Matkowski joined City after working as a banker and group manager at Raymond James. She was hired in 2010 to lead its Midwestern expansion. Matkowski joined Raymond James from PMA Securities, where she had worked for five years and managed the firm's public finance expansion. She has banking experience in previous positions at the former Harris Bank, the former LaSalle Capital Markets, and Wells Fargo Securities.
Matkowski said she welcomed the chance to take an executive leadership role at the firm.
"This was a unique opportunity because the firm has a female CEO," she said. "It really presents the opportunity to further the idea that women can be successful at broker-dealers in all kinds of different positions."
Matkowski, who started March 1, will fill the executive position previously held by Tim Hosler who has shifted his role to work on product development.
Matkowski will help manage a firm of 50 employees with 26 bankers and 12 sales and trading professionals. Almost half the bankers are women and diversity across the staff is 33%, Finn said.
The firm, which focuses on government agency, floating-rate, taxable, and tax-exempt municipals, has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey and St. Louis. Matkowski will work from the St. Louis headquarters.
The firm marks its 100th anniversary this year and Finn said she's "delighted" that the firm remains around, independent, and in growth mode given the struggles of small independent shops face that has pushed some to leave the business or seek out partners.
"We certainly hope to grow the business" as the firm moves into its second century, Finn said. Like others, its goal "to move up to next rung on the ladder" to win book-running business. The firm is aiming for more senior manager on deals as high as the $100 million range.
The firm doesn't see the need to fill any staffing holes, but Finn said the firm keeps her eye out for potential additions that would make a good fit.
Its floating-rate portfolio is another business the firm is working to continue to expand. The firm said during the past three years, its remarketing volume has grown by more than $1 billion.
"That's an area of expertise I think is unique for a small firm" especially since it's not a bank that provides direct support, Finn said. It has relationships with firms that can provide credit products but it's found so far that many issuers have established relationships.
Stern ranked 67th last year among senior managers nationally leading 10 deals valued at $166 million. That was close to its 69th finish among senior managers nationally leading nine deals valued at $154 million, according to data from Thomson Reuters.
The firm ranked 37th among co-managers nationally working on 87 deals valued at nearly $1.9 billion. That was up from its 57th finish in 2015 with 42 deals valued at $706 million.
Stern ranked 7th among minority and women-owned firms last year with eights deals valued at $141 million. It ranked 20th among remarketing agents nationally.
The firm said it serves as remarketing agent for almost $4.5 billion of short term, variable-rate tax-exempt bonds and notes and is ranked 9th based upon the number of transactions remarketed.
The firm earlier this year hired California investment banker Lauro Garcia and in 2013 it opened a New York City office and hired investment banker Donna LoCascio.
The firm gained women-owned majority status in 2009 when Finn purchased a majority stake from her husband and the firm's president, Terrance Finn, and was named board chairman. Finn was a lawyer and former public finance banker who had been on Stern's board since 2006. Since 2010, Peggy Finn has been the sole shareholder.
The firm was founded by Morris and Sigmund Stern who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany at the end of the 19th century and launched with profits accumulated from land purchases and sales in Kansas City.