For generations, it was one of the most venerable names in asset management, until like so many big names in the industry -it disappeared via acquisition. However, the venerable EF Hutton is now reborn thanks to the money manager formerly known as Kingswood Capital Markets.
Kingwood Capital Markets, a unit of Benchmark Investments, LLC, is a New York-based bulge bracket investment bank serving private and publicly traded clients across the large-, mid- and small-cap spectrums. The asset manager said Tuesday it's formally becoming EF Hutton, rejuvenating the name of the brokerage famous for the slogan “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
“The EF Hutton brand was built on integrity and respect and is known for its decades of experience as a U.S. financial services institution,” said Joseph T. Rallo, Chief Executive Officer of EF Hutton, in a statement. “We strongly believe that by rebranding as EF Hutton, our overall market recognition and success will align with the incredible legacy of this powerhouse firm that was once synonymous with Wall Street and represented the future of investment banking globally. We are extremely confident that our business will follow that same growth trajectory.”
That's saying something because prior to becoming EF Hutton, the firm formerly known as Kingwood Capital Markets was on an impressive growth streak. Barely more than a year old, the firm hauled in $2 billion in assets year-to-date and $3 billion over the past year.
“This rebrand to EF Hutton represents the company’s determination to continue its upward trajectory as it looks to bolster its composition of client services and achieve global investment banking ascendancy, with a resolute focus and goal to have the EF Hutton name and brand rise once again to bulge bracket bank status,” according to the statement.
New Dawn for EF Hutton, Perhaps Clients, Too
For the new EF Hutton, landing brand could eventually prove to be a coup because, as many advisors already know, branding is an increasingly prominent part of the financial services industry. Interestingly, the industry isn't known for its branding acumen, indicating the company formerly known as Kingwood Capital Markets could be on to something with the move to EF Hutton.
“Most banks earmark very little of their annual operating budgets to brand building and management when compared to infrastructure allocations (facilities, equipment, information technology, etc.) – and it shows,” according to the The Design Channel. “When it comes to effective branding the banking industry has been among the worst to achieve it.”
Acknowledging that marquee client demographics, namely baby boomers and some older Gen X'ers likely remember the ubiquitous EF Hutton commercials, it's not a stretch to say the brand already resonates with some of the firm's clients. At the very least, some of the former Kingwood's clients are familiar with the new name. What's more, the EF Hutton brand previously stood for trust and that's vital in this business.
“Trust is paramount when it comes to money matters. Customers perceive strong brands as lower risk and higher value,” according to Progress.
EF Hutton Here to Stay This Time
The original iteration of EF Hutton was founded in 1904 and survived nearly nine decades before a merger with Shearson Lehman/American Express. Yes, that Lehman. The original EF Hutton would later become part of Smith Barney – another bygone, beloved banking name, and ultimately part of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
Douglas Blake, managing director – investment services at Kingswood U.S. adds, "The resurrection of the EF Hutton name is one of the feel good stories on Wall Street in 2021. With the financial markets changing so rapidly, influenced by automation, globalization and decentralization, it's good to see the iconic name, a relic of a bygone Era. Even more than the nostalgia, it's been taken on by one of the hottest, most dynamic firms on Wall Street today. This gives EF Hutton a real chance to reclaim its prestigious reputation as one of the truly elite names in financial services."
Don't bet on all that change happening this time around because the new EF Hutton appears devoted to the name and the processing of restoring luster.
“Rebranding to EF Hutton was determined through a series of meetings by senior management focused on building the future of investment banking while also blending traditional wealth management with state-of-the-art best practices and diversified capabilities,” EF Hutton President David Boral.