Duty. Honor. Country.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur's words aren't just a Veterans Day slogan for Mischler Financial Group.
MFG is America's oldest institutional brokerage and investment bank certified as a Service-Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise (SDVOBE). The minority broker-dealer was founded in 1994 and certified by the State of California in 1995. It is also one of the first FINRA members certified by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the State of New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MFG is 100% employee owned and operated and takes a value-added approach to its public sector business.
"We are unequaled in our command of the financial market terrains in which we operate, and unmatched in our sense of duty, discipline, integrity, and honor… in every undertaking. We leave no client behind," according to the firm's mission statement.
MFG's public finance department includes new issue underwriting and full service secondary market trading of both general obligation and revenue bonds. The firm trades over $14 billion a month in fixed income alone. And it has extensive experience in the public finance underwriting field; the company underwrote its first municipal bond issue in 1999 for the Los Angeles State Building Authority. Today approximately 15% of its underwriting activity is municipal bonds. The firm is also a two-time counterparty to the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
Some of MFG's recent deals include serving as: co-manager on DASNY's $1.11 billion of state personal income tax revenue bond sale in October; co-manager on the Regents of the University of California's $1.05 billion of Medical Center pooled revenue bond deal in August; co-manager on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's $628.62 million sale of water and revenue bonds in April; and as a selling group member on New York City's $800.06 million general obligation bond deal in August and on NYC's $800.45 million GO deal in May.
Walter Mischler, MFG's founder and chairman, and Dean Chamberlain, its chief executive officer, are both graduates of the U.S. Military Academy.
Mischler, West Point Class of 1969, served with distinction in the Vietnam theatre in the infantry during 1971-1972 before he became disabled. He founded the firm in 1994 and today continues his work with institutional investment managers, major corporations, and government agencies in the federal, state and municipal sectors.
Chamberlain, West Point Class of 1985, had his six-year tour of duty, where he held various leadership positions with the 4th Infantry Division, cut short after suffering a disabling injury during a parachute jump. He began his financial services career in 1992 at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, trading mortgage- and asset-backed securities.
Before joining Mischler Financial in 2011, Chamberlain was a member of the board of directors for Nomura Securities International and served as its head of fixed income for the Americas and head of distribution in both North and South America. Previously, he was a senior executive for Bank of America Securities, where he was head of structured products distribution for the Midwest region.
Chamberlain said what differentiates MFG from other firms is that "our capital is our own capital. We don't borrow it from somebody else." He said the company is reinvesting into the business with its own money, not with somebody else's.
With headquarters in Stamford, Conn., and Newport Beach, Calif., the firm has offices in eight cities across the U.S. and is staffed by over 55 veterans of the securities industry.
MFG administers corporate share repurchase programs for leading companies, cash management for government entities and corporations, and asset management programs for liquid and alternative investment strategies.
"This firm has been around for over 20 years," Chamberlain said, "but for 17 of those years did mostly secondary sales and trading in a robust client base covering cities, counties and states in the middle market."
Over the last six years, he said, the firm has adopted a new business model that says "slow and steady wins the race, build our capital, hire veterans, hire qualified people and add value, add value, add value. And that's done very well for all of us."
Richard Tilghman, MFG's Managing Director of Public Finance, exemplifies the best of that new strategy. He went to Yale University and spent 19 months in Vietnam as a Marine infantry officer.
Tilghman has been in municipal bonds since 1971. He began his career at First Boston Corp. in public finance and worked on its trading floor. He has been in munis ever since, having been employed at such firms as Greenwich Partners, First Albany, Public Resources Advisory Group, Lehman, and Ramirez & Co. He joined Mischler Financial in 2014.
He said the competitive arena was a new area that the firm has become involved in adding that the firm has already participated at the co-manager level on several bond sales.
Robert Karr joined MFG in 2011, to head the firm's capital markets group. He previously worked at Bank of America Securities and at Prudential Securities, where he ran structured finance.
Karr said he believes in the idea of a firm that does "the right thing for the customer, where you may not maximize the value [for yourself] on a given trade or deal … but you build a business and a relationship for the long term."
Since 2011, when MFG significantly expanded its capital markets focus and staffing, the debt capital markets group has done about 750 deals with over $920 billion in issuance from 156 unique issuers. In 2015, the firm was involved in 76 municipal deals for about $32.5 billion and so far in 2016, it has been involved in about 66 deals for about $30.8 billion.
In 2015, the firm had a record breaking year, with all underwriting areas doing about $295 billion of business in 107 issues.
"Our business ethos is we want people to say 'great firm, great origination, great trading great service, great distribution and oh, by the way, they're a service disabled veteran firm that gives back.' That's what it's all about for us," he said.
In its charitable role, MFG will donate a percentage of the entire month of November's profits to The Bob Woodruff Foundation, The Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund and Buildon.org in observance of Veterans Day 2016.
For Mischler Financial Group, the battle to add value for its clients and provide support for the country while keeping its focus on those who have served in the military, is one precept to which they will be always faithful.