An independent investment brokerage put roots in the Richmond area during the recession and since then has more than tripled in size and emerged as a top regional player.
Capitol Securities Management Inc. continues to add offices and people. The western Henrico County-based firm is not formal or buttoned-up, as one would expect at a downtown brokerage.
The office here was started in 2006. Its one employee was G. Mark Hamby, former president of Anderson & Strudwick Inc., a Richmond brokerage that was folded into a bigger firm like many other local ones.
A self-described laid-back guy who believes in treating people the way he wants to be treated, Hamby is credited with Anderson & Strudwick’s resurgence in the mid-2000s.
He built Capitol Securities by recruiting people who worked at Richmond’s best-known brokerages.
Richmond was once home in the past two decades to about a half-dozen independent brokerages. They included, besides Anderson & Strudwick, Wheat First Butcher Singer, Craigie Inc., Branch Cabell & Co., and Davenport & Co.
Scott & Stringfellow is still based here, but it is part of BB&T Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C.
Only one old-line independent remains: Davenport.
“Capitol Securities is the second-largest full-service, independent retail brokerage firm based in Virginia, behind Davenport, which is approximately three times our size,” Hamby said. Davenport declined to comment.
Capitol Securities took advantage of opportunity, said Buddy Doyle, managing director of Oyster Consulting, an audit and compliance consulting firm in the financial services industry in Henrico that consults for Capitol Securities.
“There was a lot of chaos in the market,” Doyle said about Capitol Securities’ rise during tough economic times. “While a lot of firms were ducking for cover and trying to hold on, Mark and company were growing and actively recruiting.”
Hamby left Anderson & Strudwick in January 2006 as the employee-owned firm dealt with what it wanted to do. The brokerage merged with Birmingham, Ala.-based Sterne Agee in 2011.
“I wanted to grow,” Hamby said. “That was out of some people’s comfort zones.”
Hamby looked around and found Capitol Securities, a regional firm founded in 1985 and based in McLean.
“That was tough,” Hamby said about his departure from Anderson & Strudwick. “But it led me to here, and this is the best – the best ever.
“It’s about creating a firm where my friends work, and we take care of our customers and each other, and we make a good living. There aren’t many models like us.”
Hamby joined Capitol Securities as compliance director in March 2006. He and Joseph A. Jianos, one of two partners, bought out the other partner later the same year.
“Joe is the majority shareholder, so there is no feuding. I would much rather have a king than feudal lords. We think the same,” Hamby said. “Joe and I share the exact same vision – to grow or you die.”
Jianos, chairman and chief executive officer who works in Capitol Securities’ Boston office, said the connection here has exceeded expectations.
“It’s been a great and successful partnership,” Jianos said, adding how Hamby sat in the office by himself for several months while he pulled together his team.
“We are always looking for opportunity,” Jianos said.
“We took the Boston connection and the Virginia connection, brought it together and something cool came out of it,” Hamby said. “It’s a pleasure to come to work every day and share with everyone.”
The firm’s assets under management have increased from about $750 million since 2007 to $4 billion, Hamby said. Revenue rose from about $9 million to $35 million.
“All on a shoestring budget,” said Hamby, adding that all the debt from the buyout has been paid off.
The number of employees companywide has increased from about 85 to 245 in the same six-year period. About 40 people work at the corporate office off Concourse Boulevard in Henrico.
The headquarters was moved from McLean to Henrico in 2008.
“All this was accomplished since 2007 in the face of the worst economic crisis the country has faced since the Depression,” said Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist and managing director at Capitol Securities.
“This has the look and feel of Wheat First before it was bought,” said Lia B. Goff, chief financial officer at Capitol Securities. “It has a small family atmosphere, which I love.”
Goff stayed with Wheat First through various mergers until it became Wachovia Securities and moved its headquarters from Richmond to St. Louis in 2008. “I was there to the bitter end,” she said. “It started to feel like the 800-pound gorilla.”
Goff had worked with Hamby and others at Capitol Securities earlier in her career. Besides, she and her husband didn’t want to uproot to St. Louis.
“Mark respects what you know and lets you do your thing,” Goff said. “It’s nice to work for a non-micromanager. It’s refreshing.”
Born and reared in Beaverdam, Hamby is the son of a logger and cattle farmer. He grew up on property that his grandfather obtained decades ago in a barter deal.
His mother and father still live on the land, and his father, who turns 80 this year, still raises cattle, bales his own hay and feeds his livestock.
Hamby lives in Wyndham on a quarter-acre lot, but his farm roots aren’t far behind him. He fishes and hunts deer and duck.
“I don’t play golf,” he said. “You can’t take the farm out of me.”
Hamby, 48, was the first person in his family to go to college. He considered pursuing a law degree but needed a job when he graduated from Randolph-Macon College in 1987.
He went to work for Wheat First in corporate finance and got laid off after stock markets around the world crashed on Black Monday in October 1987. He was rehired at Wheat First in 1994 after a stint at NationsBank, now Bank of America.
He left when Wheat First was acquired in 1998 by Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union Corp. The audit department was in Charlotte, and Hamby wasn’t about to leave the Richmond area.
“I’m a local guy. … I’ve been here all my life.”
Hamby said he can see the firm growing to about 500 employees in 10 years.
Capitol Securities has about 50 offices from Boston to Tampa, Fla., but most are small, independent affiliates. It has about 10 full-service offices.
The firm opened offices in Silver Spring, Md., and in Charlottesville at the end of 2011.
“We are actively pursuing the Carolinas – Raleigh and Wilmington, Columbia and Charleston – and parts of Georgia,” Hamby said.
Hamby, who dresses in khakis, loafers and a shirt that is not always ironed, describes his management style as relaxed and practical with common sense. “So often it’s the sense that’s overlooked,” he said.
“The sky is the limit. I am a people person. I enjoy working with nice people. If you’re passionate and you like what you do, it’s easy to be excited about it.”
David A. Southworth, former local branch manager at Anderson & Strudwick, said he was drawn by the comfort level of the people at Capitol Securities. He joined in 2009.
“I had the opportunity to be a branch manager here,” he said about his job at Capitol Securities. “Mark was growing the firm.”
Besides, he had worked with some people at Capitol Securities as far back as Branch Cabell, which was bought by Boston-based Tucker Anthony Sutro in 2000.
“It’s a very pleasant atmosphere,” Southworth said about the work environment at Capitol Securities.
“When Mark and Joe said they wanted to grow into a nice regional firm where people enjoy working and to grow the firm thoughtfully, it rang true to me,” said Jay Donlin, chief operating officer who was recruited from Scott & Stringfellow in 2008.
“We have been busy for five years,” said Donlin, who also worked at Wheat First and Anderson & Strudwick. “It’s been a great move. We are creating a culture that we all missed.”