1993 trades, the firm has suffered the loss of several top executives as well as several of its pension fund clients. In February, one of the firm’s chief rainmakers, Ray McClendon, jumped ship for Chicago-based Mesirow Financial, which handles nearly $3 billion in diversified assets. The move will likely boost McClendon’s career, giving the new executive vice president of the investment banking division entree into private deals that eluded his former black-owned firm. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time for his remaining partners, Malcolmn Pryor and Allen Counts.
Though saddened by the tumult of black bond firms, Spraggins has little use for modesty. She says she is hopeful that she can help build enduring, African American-owned institutions, rather than founder- dependent firms. And she is unsympathetic to those who can’t cut it. “This, to me, is the final frontier for blacks in America,” she says. “And we must succeed.”