Sterne Agee was a group of five securities firms held privately under the name Sterne Agee Group. It was headquartered at 800 Shades Creek Parkway in Homewood with offices in 22 states. The group was acquired in 2015 by the St Louis, Missouri-based securities firm Stifel.
The primary firm was Sterne, Agee & Leach, a full-service securities brokerage with an associated trust company. Sterne Agee Asset Management provided discretionary asset management while two other associated broker-dealers, Sterne Agee Financial Services and Sterne Agee Clearing served customers in the financial services and overseas markets, respectively.
Sterne Agee traces its history to George Ward's founding of a securities firm in Birmingham in 1901. In 1916 Ward merged his company with the Sterne Securities Company founded by Mervyn Sterne two years prior, forming Ward, Sterne & Company. Rucker Agee joined the firm as a partner in 1919. A Montgomery office was opened in 1921 by Edmund Leach. After Ward died in 1945 the name of the company became Sterne, Agee & Leach.
In 1974 Sterne, Agee & Leach acquired Shropshire, Frazer & Company of Mobile. It merged with First Birmingham Securities in 1990. Other acquisitions include F&G Investment Services (1993), Hill, Crawford & Lanford of Little Rock, Arkansas (1995), John R. Taylor Financial Group of Fort Smith, Arkansas (2000), McAllaster & Associates of The Landings, Georgia (2001), and CG Melton Financial Services (2002).
In 2013 Sterne Agee made its first international acquisition when it purchased Yorvik Partners brokerage of London, England.
In 2014 the firm dismissed CEO James Holbrook Jr and his son, COO Billy Holbrook and installed former New York-based managing director Eric Needleman as CEO and Joe Nunziata as president. The changes followed a lawsuit brought by former CFO Brian Barze alleging questionable spending by James Holbrook and another suit brought by Sterne Agee against an accounting firm.
- Tomberlin, Michael (December 2, 2013) "Birmingham's Sterne Agee completes London firm acquisition." The Birmingham News
- Diel, Stan (May 23, 2014) "Sterne Agee announces new executive team following abrupt dismissal of CEO." The Birmingham News
- Poe, Kelly (February 26, 2015) "Stifel confirms it will buy Sterne Agee, transaction expected to close in late spring." The Birmingham News
- Koplowitz, Howard (February 9, 2018) "Lawsuit against Sterne Agee can move forward, Alabama Supreme Court rules." The Birmingham News
- Sterne Agee website