Minority Report

TVA uses small veteran- and minority-owned securities firms to sell its bonds, and gains a more diverse investor base as well as fresh perspectives.

Like many large companies, TVA relies on bond sales to fund its week-to-week expenses. And, yes, it works with many major Wall Street firms (think J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley) to get a large part of the job done.

But, TVA is also making a conscious effort to work with a number of small veteran- and diversity-owned brokerage firms—such as Ramirez & Co., Loop Capital, Blalock Van LLC, and Academy Securities. But as it gives, it receives in turn. “We have been trying to expand our work with smaller female, veteran, and diversity owned firms as part of our mission of service,” says Josh Carlon, TVA’s director of Corporate Finance and Investor Relations.

In fact, TVA has placed $13 billion worth of TVA notes with minority- and veteran-owned firms over the past five years. And as it’s received invaluable benefits as a result. “We’ve found that they, in turn, provide unique perspectives, insights, and a broader investor base for us,” says Carlon.

One firm, Academy Securities, brings not only investors, but incredible intelligence and perspectiveto TVA thanks to its majority veteran ownership. “Academy is certified as a service-disabled veteran owned small business (SDVOSB) by the Veterans Administration and various states which maintain the certification, and as a disabled veteran business enterprise (DVBE) by the State of California. Academy is also a certified minority businesse enterprise (MBE) – Hispanic.” says Al Kirton, Vice President of Capital Markets and Public Finance for Academy (pictured at right). “In addition to our expertise in financial markets, we have a social mission to hire, train, and retain veterans throughout the organization. Veterans comprise 83 percent of our leadership, and 13 veterans own 64 percent of the firm.” 

That’s a win for TVA, which values diversity and inclusion and is a strong supporter of U.S. veterans. But along with a diverse investor base, Academy brings more. “One of the most unique resources at our firm is our Geopolitical Intelligence Group,” says Kirton, who is a graduate of the Naval Academy and served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. “We have 14 recently retired admirals and generals on our staff, and they are experts in fields such as geostrategic risk and cybersecurity.” 

According to Michael Snyder, program manager in Corporate Finance, this is useful to TVA. “It’s great to have a view on a macro level — we have many investors in Asia, Central America, and Europe,” he says. “Academy Securities helps us with those endeavors, and provides us with incomparable intelligence.”

As for Academy, having TVA as a client is also a big win. “TVA is a bellwether name, and we love its history and what it means to the citizens of the Tennessee Valley,” says Kirton. “It’s great to be involved; not only does that give us more market intel, it helps us be a better partner to our clients like TVA. As we grow in the energy space, it enhances our value proposition. 

Says Snyder, “We love their story almost as much as we love to tell our own.”