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Brandford: California’s Billion Dollar Man

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By Joe C. Hopkins

Like so many young African American males, Napoleon Brandford, III was born into a family with an unremarkable history. Growing up in the sixties, young Brandford saw a lot of political progress related to what some call, "The Civil Rights era."  He had big dreams. He wanted to become a mayor of a major American city like his heroes, Carl Stokes, the first African American mayor of Cleveland, Ohio and Maynard Jackson, the first Black mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.

From l-r: Napoleon Brandford, III, Joe C. Hopkins and Cloves Campbell, Jr.

What he became in many ways was much more important to major cities than their mayors. He became a founding partner in an investment banking corporation that helps cities and government entities across the country invest in themselves.  The firm, Siebert Brandford Shank and Co., LLC, is the number one ranked minority owned investment banking firm in the United States. The firm, which was founded in 1996, is ranked in the top twenty five municipal underwriters in the nation. It is also the only African American owned firm on Wall Street.

Brandford started his journey in joining the growing ranks of African American mayors by attending the University of Nevada on a Basketball scholarship. He graduated from Purdue University in 1974 with a degree in Political Science and International Studies. He completed his masters in Public Administration in 1978 from the University of Southern California.  On his pursuit of becoming a mayor, Brandford met a man named T.M. Alexander Jr., the first African American stock broker on Wall Street. Alexander shifted gears.  He went to work for an investment firm and, as he says, started doing exciting things. The experience had changed his focus to finance.

Brandford worked at various positions in finance including a stint in Dade County Florida as Deputy Finance Director. There he put together Bond deals for the county working with Municipal Bonds.  With Alexander as his mentor, Brandford opened his first finance office in 1985 in Oakland, California. His first client was the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. 

Since that time, his client base has included cities and governmental entities across the country providing funding for education, housing, health services, transportation, utilities, redevelopment projects, and general infrastructure. As of the second quarter of 2007 his firm had negotiated more than 2.7 billion dollars in negotiated Municipal Bond issues.

Earlier this year, his firm became the first Black-owned firm to senior manage a $1.75 billion dollar bond when SBSCO was selected to lead a consortium of firms for the State of California in a GO Bond sale.

The young man with the unremarkable beginning and big dreams has moved on to develop a remarkable history and legacy in the world of finance. His many volunteer activities include serving on boards of the NCAA, the Boy Scouts and the University of Southern California. These activities provide him the opportunity to serve as a mentor and role model for young people just as T.M. Alexander did for him.

Siebert Brandford Shank and Co., LLC, is located at 1999 Harrison St., Ste 2720, Oakland, CA 94612. Phone: (510) 529-3133. 

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