A salute to veterans in the financial services industry

Municipal bond firms marched at the head of the parade as the nation celebrated National Veterans Small Business Week.

The number of veteran and service-disabled veteran brokers has grown with a prod from laws and regulations that encourage municipalities to give a portion of their business to these firms, along with women- and minority-owned companies.

“During their military service, these veterans defended the Nation at home and abroad, protecting our freedoms and very way of life with courage and tenacity,” President Trump said in prepared remarks Nov. 4. “As small business owners, they continue to contribute to the strength and prosperity of our Nation with their entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas, achieving tremendous success in industry. In the United States, nearly 1 in 10 businesses is owned by a veteran, collectively generating more than $1 trillion in sales and employing more than 5 million people annually.”

“As small business owners, veterans continue to contribute to the strength and prosperity of our nation,” President Trump said. (Bloomberg News)

Drexel Hamilton has set the standard for hiring veterans, training and educating veteran hires on all types of assets and securities, leaving an opening for each of those hires to bring in another veteran and start the process all over again. The firm is 100% service-disabled veteran-owned and operated, and roughly 51% of current employees are military veterans.

“We don’t think that ownership is enough, it’s about authenticity — the spirit of the law should be represented. We are trying to fulfill that mission,” said Dan Boyle, co-president. “We lose a lot of veteran employees, especially from our municipal group, to bigger banks. While we may not want them to leave, we encourage them to do what is best for them and their families. And it creates a vacancy for another deserving vet to have the same opportunity. It is part of the symbiotic relationship we enjoy with larger banks who share in our mission.”

Tom Mead, COO and managing director of municipals undertakes the tasks of the firm’s vet-with-a-vet mentoring program.

“We always tell them, if things don’t work out at wherever they are going, they can always come back,” though none have, said Mead. They are now ambassadors and Drexel Hamilton alumni.

Ultimately, Drexel’s goal is to give opportunities to veterans of all kinds, in the financial securities industry that they would not otherwise have.

Drexel has increased its deal and volume growth every year since it started back in March 2011 and is on the cusp of getting its first-ever senior managed deal.

Academy Securities is a New York based veteran-owned investment bank and broker-dealer. Its social mission includes providing employment opportunities for veterans. It encourages veterans to apply for every open position at Academy and also offers to help veterans find a job elsewhere if necessary.

Academy started in 2009 and has been growing each year amid challenging conditions. Earlier this year, the firm senior managed the Trinity River Authority, Texas’ sale of $6.53 million of revenue bonds for the Walker-Calloway System.

“We have great support from both munis and corporate firms and they have helped us to hire veterans and get them jobs on Wall Street,” said Mike Boyd, chief compliance officer for Academy. “Our mission is to help veterans from all different ranks and educational levels.”

Academy has an “open door” policy, in which any vet can reach out either by phone or email or, if it is logistically possible, come into the office to discuss opportunities.

“If something in finance doesn’t pan out, we try and get them a job somewhere else,” said Boyd.

Mischler Financial Group Inc. was started in 1994 in California, as the state was one of the first to establish legislation providing opportunities for service-disabled veteran businesses to work on State projects and financings. In 2011, the firm took on a significant expansion, starting a capital markets team in Stamford, Connecticut. The firm strives to help veterans in four different capacities: philanthropy, career building, legislation and corporate governance.

Each May and November, the firm donates funds to one veteran organization in recognition of Memorial Day and Veterans Day, this November all proceeds will go towards the U.S. Army Rangers Lead the Way Fund, Inc.

“We support vet organizations throughout the year as well, but this is one extra way to recognize our roots,” said Richard A. Tilghman Jr., managing director, public finance at Mischler.

The firm helps vets with career building by hiring, training and educating them on Wall Street in general and on different services that the firm provides. They also work with states, trying to develop further legislation and requirements for doing business with veteran-owned businesses. The fourth prong is corporate governance, as Mischler works with Fortune 500 companies and helps them develop diversity programs and get them to include SDVOB firms in their corporate bond issues.

“We have seen growing participation of business,” Tilghman said. “We have been patient, looking for opportunities where we can get in. Our 2018 total participation is already equal to what we saw in 2016. We are happy that we are managing to keep the business up. Even with overall muni volume down 15% this year, we were able to reach that level.”

The firm increased co-managed business 32% in 2016 from 2015 and in 2017, that business increased to almost four times what it was in 2016.

“We have accomplished a lot, from 2013 to 2017, as we have increased the business by over 2.5 times and shown ability to grow even in a bad year and I’m proud of that,” Tilghman said.

AmeriVet Securities Inc., headquartered in New York City, is the second oldest Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business (SDVOB) broker-dealer in existence — a FINRA member since May 1994. The company boasts several unique accomplishments. AmeriVet Securities Inc., is the first, and currently the only, broker-dealer (out of more than 3000 broker-dealers currently operating) to be awarded the Department of Labor, Hire Vets Medallion Gold Award. The U.S. Department of Labor presents this award to companies whose top priority is the hiring of veterans.

AmeriVet is the only SDVOB broker-dealer that is licensed to conduct securities business, investment advisory business, and commodities advisory business. It has more SDVOB certifications than any other SDVOB company in the securities industry, including the prestigious NVBDC certification and the NaVOBA certification.

The firm was the first FINRA member broker-dealer since World War II to operate under wartime conditions during the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). From 2002 to 2012, the firm was under a special inactive status because the main principal of the firm, Elton Johnson Jr., was deployed seven times on active duty military status.

Johnson was in the U.S. Army Reserve on 9/11. Because of this, he was called up for active military duty and became the first and only main principal of a FINRA member broker-dealer to be deployed to a combat zone while managing a FINRA member broker-dealer.

Over the course of 12 years, Johnson was deployed seven times, including two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the U.S. Army Combat Action Badge. He holds the distinction of being the only U.S. military member to be attached to, and serve with, Iraqi Army Special Operations troops (Iraqi Army National Task Force) and Afghan Army Special Operations troops (Afghan National Army Commandos).

AmeriVet specializes in institutional brokerage where the company’s core capabilities are in the Debt Capital Markets, the Equity Capital Markets, and Public Finance. The firm’s clients are large multinational banks, corporations, and asset managers who seek to do business with diversity and inclusion firms, like AmeriVet.

AmeriVet has seasoned debt and equity capital markets professionals in Patrick Perdue (U.S. Navy veteran) and Michael Naidrich who managed special bracket firms like AmeriVet in the past. AmeriVet, will be a leader in veteran engagement and has a mission to hire, train, and empower veterans. AmeriVet, has a goal to have greater than 50% of their staff be comprised of U.S. military veterans.

American Veterans Group (AVG) was co-founded by Ben Biles in October of 2017 and just got its license from FINRA in August. Biles wanted to start a firm and take the helping of veterans to the next level. American Veterans Group PBC is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned investment bank and broker-dealer, which is committed to providing significant value to American military veteran communities. This commitment is demonstrated by significant AVG ownership gifted to its nonprofit organization.

“We are 25% owned by a 501(c)(19) nonprofit, and AVG is the first public benefit corporation on Wall Street,” Biles said. “We have a simple mission — to provide competitive pricing and expertise in the markets we serve and a meaningful social impact to military communities. We want to change the narrative around the level of impact veteran-owned businesses can make and the response from clients has been overwhelming. They’re excited to learn that their business with AVG is a special partnership providing valuable services and a direct impact in the communities where we serve.”

Bancroft Capital LLC, a certified service-disabled veteran-owned small business, was started this year by founder and CEO Cauldon D. Quinn. Bancroft Capital is a SDVOSB operating an institutional broker-dealer and investment advisor.

Bancroft’s primary goal is to move beyond the idea of “hiring” veterans; rather the firm is committing to the restoration of the nation’s veterans through the establishment of a skill set that will last them the life of a career that carries over multiple jobs.

“We believe in the importance of our veterans to bring home not just a paycheck, but also their dignity as providers for themselves and their families,” said Quinn.

Additionally, Quinn is active in providing training to veterans beyond Bancroft. He has developed a formal curriculum used to introduce veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to the financial industry, and has spoken to a number of conferences and corporations about the importance of helping veterans reach their maximum potential in the civilian workforce and reuniting them with their families.

“Bancroft is the first to include first responders as part of our training program and we believe police officers and firefighters are deserving of the same recognition as those who have served in our Armed Forces, yet many do not have access to opportunities in the financial industry,” said Quinn. “Additionally, we are proud of the establishment of a formal 12-month training program for our candidates, which is supplemented and enhanced by academic curriculum through a partnership with a

local university. Ultimately, however, our most significant accomplishment is touching the lives of the veterans, first responders, and their families.”

Quinn said the firm’s primary focus over the next year is the continued growth of each of our business lines and further demonstrating our commitment to service of our clients, our veterans, and our country.

Roberts and Ryan engages in underwriting and trading of corporate, municipal and agency mortgage debt, as well as equity agency trade execution, stock buybacks and equity underwriting.

The firm was founded by Daniel Roberts, a U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and a Purple Heart recipient, instrumental in Bill Clinton’s passage of the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999, with 35 years of experience in muni underwriting. Roberts is still an equity owner.

Since 1994, the firm has co-managed $24 billion of California muni bond issuance. The firm supports the veteran community with some direct hiring and training of military veterans, with the majority of the firms employees being veterans. Roberts and Ryan donate to charitable foundations that make significant positive impact every day in the lives of veterans and their families and will support veteran focused charitable organizations that are best positioned to aid the veteran community.

One health and wellness initiative that Roberts and Ryan works with is the Boulder Crest Retreat. Veterans and their families often face challenges during the veteran’s adjustment from military to civilian life.

Boulder Crest is the nation’s first permanent and private rural retreat for wounded U.S. military veterans and their families, providing free, world class, short duration, high impact retreats for combat vets and their families.