Holding Their Ground

To win today's turf wars, BE financial services firms must develop new products and find strategic partners

international marketplace by either a joint venture opportunity or an acquisition.”

The Williams Capital Group L.P. (No. 1 on the BE INVESTMENT BANKS list with $122.3 billion in total managed issues) is investing more of its resources into high value-added products. CEO Christopher J. Williams says the firm launched its first-ever private equity fund last year. It hopes to complete the fundraising process by the end of the second quarter. Nearly $150 million has already been raised and Williams says the firm has a team in place that can execute a private equity strategy. “The private equity market offers investors and managers, such as Williams Capital, the opportunity to earn returns that are often well in excess of the returns typically available in the public securities market,” he says.

While others look to expansion efforts, analysts say black private equity firms still lag behind when it comes to getting their fair share. Robert L. Greene, president of the National Association of Investment Companies, says the biggest challenge is increasing the number of pension plans deploying capital in the “emerging domestic market.” While minority-owned firms manage less than 2% — or about $6 billion — of the private equity business in the U.S. marketplace at any given time, the total amount deployed in the U.S. is about $300 billion. “The bottom line is, until significantly more capital is invested into the minority marketplace, a number of African American entrepreneurs will face a capital deficit,” Greene says.

Financial Services [Eligibility]
[B.E. Banks] These are commercial banks or savings and loans that are classified by the Federal Reserve as black institutions and have been fully operational for the previous calendar year. An institution’s financial status is measured in terms of total assets, capital, deposits, and loans, including mortgage-backed securities for the calendar year. In compiling our list of the leading 25 institutions, we received surveys from black-owned institutions and consulted the Federal Reserve, state banking commissions, and industry associations.

[B.E. Insurance Companies] A life insurance company must be at least 51% black-owned and have been fully operational for the previous calendar year. An institution’s financial status is measured in terms of total assets, life insurance in force, premium income, annuity income, net investment income, statutory reserves, and surplus. The top five insurance companies on our list sell individual and/or group life insurance policies. (No institution that is strictly in the business of selling property and casualty insurance has been included.) In compiling the list, we received surveys from these institutions and consulted the rating services, state regulatory agencies, and industry associations.

[B.E. Investment Banks] An investment bank must be at least 51% black-owned and have been fully operational for the previous calendar year. The top 10 investment banks on our list engage in activities such as underwriting, initial public offerings (IPOs), mergers and acquisitions (M&A), retail brokerage, institutional research and sales, and financial advisory services. A firm’s financial status is measured in terms of total dollar amount of issues derived from the underwriting of municipal and corporate bonds and equities

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