Eric Standifer had worked as a broker on Wall Street for a number of years when he decided to strike out on his own. When Standifer founded Robert Van Securities in 1991, he almost certainly was aware of the long odds a minority firm in the finance industry would face but saw an opportunity to do something special and took a leap of faith.
Fast forward almost 30 years—through multiple recessions, a merger with investment bank Blaylock & Company in 2007—and Blaylock Van, LLC is still going strong and exceeding client expectations. Standifer has sustained his company over time thanks to two core pillars—a focus on technological sophistication and a persistent pursuit of excellence. The vision of the firm remains as simple as it is insightful—“Delivering financial services of the highest quality.”
The many obstacles to success for any new firm are well documented, with only a small fraction surviving past the 5-year mark. Those odds grow exponential for a black business owner in an industry that is not renowned for its diversity. Standifer and his team overcame these and many other challenges to build an enterprise that is highly respected and capable of handling any transaction. The firm now boasts a wide footprint, with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Oakland, and Madison, WI. The firm has managed capital markets transactions for global brands like IBM, AT&T, Disney, and Apple.
As the longest-tenured black owned firm on Wall Street, Blaylock Van and its principals are heavily invested in programs and initiatives that promote economic development in disadvantaged communities. With the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority communities, the firm’s efforts are evermore critical. The firm looks to provide financial services to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and other community lenders. In an effort to further diversify its already diverse base, Blaylock Van entered into a groundbreaking equity partnership with the Kalispell Nation of Washington State in 2017.
Standifer is aware of the unique position of his firm and is thankful for the lessons he’s learned along the way. “I am extremely grateful for the journey of the last three decades and so proud of what our team has been able to accomplish,” he says. “We have worked to build a brand that is known for being responsive, doing quality work and putting the customer’s goals above all else. That is how we have survived this long, and even thrived despite some very challenging circumstances. We are honored to give back and do what we can to try and create opportunities for others. The Blaylock Van formula for success is a hopeful story for other companies to emulate for another 30 years.
To learn more about Blaylock, visit the company’s website.