Who We Are

Vining Sparks opened for business in 1981 with a single mission: provide investment services to community banks. Jim Vining envisioned the integration of asset/liability management into the investment portfolio decision-making process for community banks. He enlisted the support of Willard Sparks, who provided much of the capital needed to start the firm. With the idea and capital, Vining Sparks began installing asset/liability models in community banks and helping them make appropriate investment decisions for their portfolios.

Vining Sparks looks very different today than the humble beginnings just described. It currently employs over 300 financial professionals and has long branched beyond its sole focus on community banks. Although still a significant provider of services to community banks, the firm also counts customers in the following industries: large regional banks, public funds, insurance companies, money managers, investment advisors, mutual funds, international accounts, credit unions and trust departments. Additionally, its services to financial institutions have expanded to include whole loan trading, derivatives, interest rate products, bond accounting, safekeeping and asset/liability out-sourcing.

Following is a timeline of major milestones in Vining Sparks' history:

  • 1981 - Vining Sparks opens for business
  • 1988 - Selected by Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) to act as clearing broker for ICBA's members (this contract is still in place today)
  • 1991 - Purchased bond division of Union Planters National Bank and doubled in size overnight
  • 1995 - Opened first international office in London, England
  • 2004 - Purchased the Small Business Administration (SBA) pooling department of Union Planters National Bank (the country's largest pooler of SBA guaranteed loans)
  • 2008 - Jim Vining retires and names Mark Medford as President and CEO