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Minority-Owned Brokerage Led by Suzanne Shank Attracts Big Bucks From Private Equity Giant

Crain’s Detroit Business
Aaron Elstein

April 13, 2022

Siebert Williams Shank (SWS), a leading minority-owned brokerage firm with ties to Detroit, will roughly double its capital after an investment from private equity giant Apollo Global Management.

“This will significantly enhance our opportunities because we can participate in capital-intensive activities that historically we couldn’t engage in,” SWS Chairman Christopher Williams said.

The amount and terms of Apollo’s investment in SWS wasn’t disclosed, but Williams said it is a combination of debt and equity.

Apollo’s investment comes a week after the Federal Reserve Bank of New York named its first minority-owned primary dealer.

Based in New York’s Financial District, Siebert Williams Shank specializes in underwriting and trading municipal and corporate bonds. The firm had $43 million in capital at the end of last year, according to a regulatory filing.

“Since inception, SWS has sought to continue to grow in scope and capabilities to better serve our clients. This strategic partnership will certainly enhance our capacity and competitive position in the capital markets and maintain our strong performance-based culture as we serve clients globally,” Suzanne Shank, president and chief executive officer of Siebert Williams Shank, said in a news release.

Shank, who is based in Detroit, is a founder of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. LLC and in 2019 she led the merger of the firm with The Williams Capital Group LP, which became Siebert Williams Shank. She is a member of several metro Detroit boards, including Rocket Companies Inc., CMS Energy, the Skillman Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Invest Detroit. Shank was named among Crain’s 2021 Most Influential Women and a Crain’s Newsmaker in 2019.

Minority-owned firms have prodded municipalities and pension funds to set aside a portion of their trading and underwriting activity for decades. Although they’ve made inroads, they lack the capital to compete with large Wall Street institutions. Chicago-based Loop Capital, the largest minority-owned brokerage firm, has $90 million in capital. Goldman Sachs has $110 billion.

Meanwhile, the latest data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission showed Black people and Hispanics made up 13% of Wall Street’s workforce in 2018, down from 14% in 2008.

“At Apollo, our commitment to expanding opportunity extends to the marketplace and making an intentional effort to support the success of diverse financial institutions and employers,” Co-president Jim Zelter said.

Apollo has about $500 billion in assets under management, and Williams said SWS has helped it and the numerous companies it owns raise financing in the past.

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