Vining Sparks is nationally recognized as a leading broker/dealer in serving the investment needs of institutional investors. The firm was started in 1981 by Jim Vining to serve the investment and asset/liability needs of community banks. Vining’s former experience as an officer of the Federal Reserve and an executive vice president at Union Planters National Bank provided a unique platform for the vision he had for the firm. High interest rates and high inflation coupled with banking deregulation had created an environment whereby banks needed practical solutions to manage interest rate risk. As a result, Vining wrote the first computer-based asset/liability model for community banks and integrated it into the decision-making process for investment portfolio management. The combination proved to be invaluable to the banking industry and the firm grew rapidly.
From an initial staff of 17 people, Vining Sparks now employs more than 300 people in 14 offices across the United States. The firm has continued its presence in the banking industry and currently transacts securities business with more than 3,500 institutional clients. However, Vining Sparks has long grown beyond its initial customer base of community banks. The current customer base includes hundreds of other clients such as savings and loans, credit unions, municipalities, money managers, trust departments, insurance companies, pension funds, and investment advisors. Vining Sparks has approximately $100 million in capital and an annual trading volume exceeding $200 billion with customers located in all 50 states and many foreign countries.
Customers of Vining Sparks receive access to proprietary analytical tools that assist them in the investment portfolio decision-making process. Just as Vining integrated asset/liability management into the portfolio management process for banks, the firm now assists clients of all types in making decisions that are appropriate based on the client’s specific investment objectives. This assistance is provided through specialized professionals utilizing the proprietary analytical tools mentioned above and is one of the primary reasons Vining Sparks is unique compared with other broker/dealers. The firm’s employees come from varied backgrounds and include certified public accountants, chartered financial analysts, former Wall Street professionals, former banking officers and regulators, as well as experts in other industries.
Unique Products & Services
The Vining Sparks’ trading desk is able to structure and bring new securities to market for agencies of the U.S. government. By being able to tailor these securities to customers’ needs, the firm is consistently ranked as one of the country’s top 20 underwriters of newly issued agency debt.
The firm has developed an in-house computer system that continually monitors all customer portfolios. This real-time system is able to alert customers to any number of situations that they need to be aware of. Examples include bonds that have been called, bonds with timely news updates, and other strategy-related issues. Vining Sparks is very active in providing investment education to its current and prospective customer base. Each year, the firm holds dozens of seminars in various locations across the country.
If you would like to learn more about how Vining Sparks can serve you, feel free to contact your account representative or call Randy Wade, Executive Vice President, at (800) 829-0321.